Q&A Concerning the Upcoming Election27-Apr-2010
What goal would you most like to accomplish in the next two years if elected?
My goals have remained the same since I decided to run for this office last year. In the next two years I want to provide more jobs to the 62nd district. First and foremost, I believe that we must get our local economy back on track by encouraging small business growth. We can do this by promoting competition and eliminating legislation that results in partiality. Another key is doing away with the needless red tape and taxes that place a huge burden on small businesses and often forces them to close.
I believe a very important function of being a State Representative is helping local industrial recruiters with access to state officials and departments that can provide incentives, road work, and job training. Employment is at the heart of people’s concerns and that is why job creation and retention will continue to be my number one priority.
With stimulus money about to run out, the state faces massive budget challenges. What are specific examples of how you believe expenses should be cut and/or revenue raised to meet the shortfall?
We have to balance the budget without increasing taxes. The state’s financial situation is a reflection of its residents and it would be wrong to pass the responsibility down. Government doesn’t have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem. The state must make wise decisions and cut useless spending just like so many households are doing.
Secretary of State Tre Hargett recently stated to the Leadership Lincoln group that since he was elected in 2008, his department’s budget has been reduced by more than 3 million dollars. In spite of these cuts, he said Tennessee residents will not notice any negative changes in the services they receive. This same principal must be applied to all state departments. Their budgets will continue to be reduced and they must find ways to provide services to those who need it most. The legislature must study next year’s budget and find out where cuts can be made that affect the least number of people.
Fifty five percent of the state’s income is raised through the sales tax, so the most promising way to increase the state’s revenue will come through expanding the tax base. Addressing and solving our employment problems will increase the amount of spending within our local economies. This is beneficial for two reasons. It helps local businesses and supplies the state’s largest source of revenue. There are a number of people who are taking advantage of sales tax exemptions. We must work to make sure those who receive this incentive deserve it, and remove those from the list who are wrongly benefiting from the system.
What impact will the passage of federal health care legislation have on the state, and how can the state meet those challenges?
I believe that the newly passed healthcare legislation will put the state in an even more difficult financial position. I hope there are ways Tennessee can avoid the massive expenses that I feel are forthcoming because of this bill. There is no doubt that the healthcare problem must be addressed and that some people need help with medical expenses. But my question is who is going to end up paying for these services? The state already has its hands full tightening the budget on TennCare and removing its wasteful spending. Healthcare reform is an obvious need, but what we do not need is the federal government heading it up and managing it. As is often the case, government hasn’t reformed healthcare, they are simply shifting the cost from one group of people to another in order to pay for it. They have a long track record of bad management full of fraud and excesses.
What can the state do to create new jobs, either through new industry or expansion of existing industry?
I believe that Tennessee has done an excellent job attracting businesses to the state. Evidence of this can be seen by the arrival of large companies like Hemlock, Wacker Chemical, and Volkswagen. When talking with companies about their reasons for locating to Tennessee they often begin with the educated workforce. When Tennessee supports K-12, vocational schools, and universities, the state is making a significant investment in creating jobs.
Tennessee also benefits from its location and the ability to reach a large portion of the U.S. population within one day of driving. The state has invested heavily in the Department of Transportation and this commitment is essential to commerce. Not only is interstate travel necessary, but also the ability to get product in and out of local communities. An educated workforce and the ability to move products are crucial, not only to attracting new industry, but also allowing businesses to grow.
As legislators, the best thing we can do to encourage business growth is to pass laws that limit law suits on businesses and professionals. We need to let them be successful. I am all for people and industries being responsible, but the unwarranted and frivolous law suits need to be eliminated to attract more business people to the state.
Finally I believe that the state must support the local Chamber of Commerce and industrial recruiters. Job creation starts at the local level and these boards know the qualities their communities have to offer. The state must work closely with them to provide the resources they need to attract new businesses.
What in your own background and experience makes you the right person for this position?
I am a businessman with almost 40 years experience in the trucking business. Throughout my career, I have worked hard to build businesses and have employed hundreds of people. Having a business background is a huge asset because it provides a sense of practicality when it comes to making tough decisions. I know what it takes to meet a payroll, make investments, and negotiate with insurance companies.
I take great pride in having always been an active member of our community. It is a joy to help so many great people who make our area the strong and vibrant community that it is.
In May, I will have completed my first House session. Over the past year, I have learned what it takes to run a successful campaign, pass useful legislation, and serve committees with sound judgment. I want to build upon this foundation. I know how the process works at the state House and what it means to be a legislator. Finally, I am in the job for the right reasons. This is a job of service and I want to help make our counties the greatest place in the state to live, work, and raise a family.