Sorry we haven’t talked in so long, but I understand that life is busy when you are Governor of a state. I make the best of it by enjoying my chats with the folks on your staff and in the cabinet.
I needed to write to you about some problems that you might not be aware of, matters that are making you look bad to the folks here. Thought I should write early and give you a chance to smooth things over before all of your Democrat chums start stopping in on their campaign tours for President.
I remember how we were all so proud when you spoke about the budget and said you wouldn’t cut any funding to K-12. Finally a Governor put some money in to back up all the talk we’ve heard about education being important. But then a funny thing happened out here. The school system here in Sevier County was told one figure in April and were given hopes of a higher amount but after your budget was passed in May, your folks lowered that figure by almost a million dollars. Instead of increasing the money, you cut it. Your folks said our county could afford to pay more, even though we support one of the highest percentages of local funding for schools in Tennessee already.
I know you’ve been to the county recently, I’ve seen you on TV speaking here. (Just a reminder that we can’t cover your speeches if your folks don’t tell us you’re in town.) However maybe the money situation here has been misrepresented to you. Let me pop some things out for you to think about.
We’re one of the fastest growing counties in the state and that means we’re building and adding on to schools left and right.
Tourist dollars generate everything here and while we’re still growing and expanding, those dollars have not been growing as fast as they used to. Numbers are slow everywhere, but when they go slow here, everything goes slow. We raise our taxes and the hotels and restaurants will be pricing themselves out of tourist business. It’s a negative return to raise those things much more in an economy that lives and dies by tourism.
I understand how the fact can be missed, but I know it can be fixed. Senator Thompson sat down and explained to FEMA that they couldn’t base our Emergency service grants on population of the county. They had to look at a busy weekend and the thousands of tourist that emergency services would have to deal with in a crisis. Hopefully, you can explain the reverse idea when it comes to our “ability to pay” for our schools.
By the way, it was a masterstroke move y’all did on higher education. By cutting state college and university funding, they had to raise tuition almost as much as the amounts on the new lottery scholarships. So I guess you did find a way to send the lottery funds right into the colleges.
See you on the campaign trails this fall.