TN Budget Crisis -- I'm "Non-essential"

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Darren H, Jul 1, 2002.

  1. Darren H

    Darren H Second Unit

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    I don't know if it has made the national news yet, but as of midnight CST, the state of Tennessee is officially closed for business. Because political content is taboo around here, I'll just summarize the situation by saying that, like many states, we face a major deficit ($800 million), but our legislators seem incapable of agreeing on a solution.

    As a "non-essential" employee of the university of Tennessee, I (and 4000 others) have been told to not report to work until there is a balanced budget in place. Fortunately, I have built up some annual leave, but I'm sure that many hourly employees will be really struggling.

    What a messed up situation. I can't believe that I live in a state that has closed its universities.

    Again, please don't discuss particular issues. but I am curious to know if any other HTF Tennesseans are effected.
     
  2. Charles J P

    Charles J P Cinematographer

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    Location:
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    Sorry for your situation.
     
  3. Darren H

    Darren H Second Unit

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    I have two choices: enjoy an unpaid vacation or burn personal leave. Quite a choice, eh? Like I said, though, I'm more concerned for the hourly employees, who are grossly underpaid to begin with.
     
  4. John Spencer

    John Spencer Supporting Actor

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    Well, I'm a Tennessean, but I don't work for the state. At this point, it's a good thing. I really feel for anyone who does, though. That's pretty much all I can say at this point that won't get the thread closed, however.
     
  5. Chet_F

    Chet_F Supporting Actor

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    Bummer
     
  6. John Thomas

    John Thomas Cinematographer

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    First, let me say that dicussion of this situation could easily not go into the realm of dirty politics. I don't think the purpose of this thread is to debate/influence others, which is why I think the HTF adopted that policy in the first place.
    Anyhow - my mother works for the state and she has been deemed non-essential as well. So, she's enjoying a couple of days off. Over the years, she's accrued as much annual leave as possible, due to the fact that she never can take it - the workload has increased gradually year by year for her. And she's also concerned about those who haven't any time to take off since they just won't be getting paid.
    And I have taken a few summer classes at a state school here in town - good thing I got them in the first summer session, as the second sessions is suspended. Of course, I can't get my grades (only availabe online) because the server for that has crashed and no one's out there to get it up and running again. [​IMG]
    Anyhow - essential service (Man, drop the THP for a week. I'll take a trip to Knoxville [​IMG]) are still going on. That was signed into effect last night and will be effective for a week from what I understand.
    More info can be found here (I think): LINK
     
  7. Van Patton

    Van Patton Second Unit

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    Yeah they covered it a lot on local talk radio (www.wgow.com FM) down here in Chattown. Those dumbasses can't makeup their friggin' minds. I say just put a $1.50 tax on cigarettes just like NY did. It'll help stop cancer plus give the govt some money.
     
  8. John Thomas

    John Thomas Cinematographer

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    One more link for information: TSEA Online.
    put a $1.50 tax on cigarettes
    Think that would raise $870 million per year?
     
  9. Chet_F

    Chet_F Supporting Actor

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    I know what will solve it but will never happen in TN...I used to live in Chattanooga. Rhymes with mate and ends with taxes and you currently don't have it. Can u guess???[​IMG]
     
  10. Darren H

    Darren H Second Unit

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    I'm good friends with a prominent member of Tennesseans for Fair Taxation, a man who spent several decades at the highest levels of D.C. politics. He swears that he has never seen anything so absurd. My wife and I clipped a great letter to the editor from Saturday's KnoxNews Sentinel:
     
  11. Chris Lock

    Chris Lock Second Unit

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    > I have two choices: enjoy an unpaid vacation or burn personal leave. Quite a choice, eh?

    Yeah, but it's better than the option a lot of other employees have been enjoying: permanent layoff/firing. It sounds like at least your job is safe once the budget problem is resolved, which it will have to be.
     
  12. David Singleton

    David Singleton Stunt Coordinator

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    Darren, I am also an "unessential" employee. I am an Information Systems Programmer/Analyst Supervisor (that's the official title, also DBA and Project Manager) for the Treasury Department.

    Fortunately, I should have plenty of personal leave, unless it goes beyond July (I have only worked at the state for five years). I wasn't even aware I could use personal leave (nor was anyone else in Treasury) until I saw Don's essential services continuation plan last night. I worry for my colleagues in the office. The most perplexing thing about the "shutdown" in regards to allowing the use of annual leave, how is the state saving any significant money? The vast majority should have enough leave to cover a short break. I assume the operating overhead is the difference maker.

    The most unfortunate outcome of this mess: the state will lose some very dedicated employees who will be forced to seek other job opportunities due to the inability to handle such an unstable situation. I am afraid that many people that have stayed with the state, while accepting a significantly lower salary than the private market, will see this as the last straw.

    David
     
  13. Steven K

    Steven K Supporting Actor

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    This is great... I fly into Memphis tomorrow. I talked to my parents (who live in TN), they're pretty upset about it too.
     
  14. John Spencer

    John Spencer Supporting Actor

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    It shouldn't affect your flight, Steve. Their ineptitude stems from a whole diferent set of circumstances. [​IMG]
     
  15. Darren H

    Darren H Second Unit

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    Looks like I "get" to return to work tomorrow. What a disgrace. And to think that after all of this mess, the best they could come up with is yet another increase in the sales tax, making our structure even more regressive than it was previously. This is the last straw for me. I was considering staying around Knoxville after graduation, but I'm sick of trying to be an educator in a state that places so little value in education. In my four years at UT, I've watched a steady decline in teaching and services, all the while students have been forced to carry a larger burden of the expense. Pathetic.
     
  16. Bhagi Katbamna

    Bhagi Katbamna Supporting Actor

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    Sales taxes are not regressive. A regressive tax is something that penalizes the poor the same as the rich. Gasoline tax is regressive because everyone(just about) needs gasoline. In the case of the sales tax, people that buy more(and more expensive things) will pay more.
     
  17. Darren H

    Darren H Second Unit

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    You're absolutely right, Bhagi. The situation in Tennessee is complicated, though, because our sales tax will now climb as high as 10.25% (depending on local taxes) and will continue to apply to groceries. That, and the bumping up of "sin" taxes, do make it relatively regressive in that, well, we all buy food and (statistically speaking) those particular sin taxes hit the poor more heavily. The tax proposal I was pushing for would have created a flat income tax and eliminated sales tax on food -- much less regressive in comparison.
     
  18. dougW

    dougW Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, Darren, I think we have talked before. I too was hit with this state shutdown. Heck, I don't even know for sure that we can take annual, I am assuming so, and did we get the holiday today? I would think so, since they agreed yesterday, but then...

    As to the state sales tax increase, I personally would rather have that than a state income tax. If I want to spend my money, then I pay, if I want to save, I don't.

    As to selectively taxing bad habits, I think that's been done enough. It's not very fair to selectively pick on the same group of people over and over and over. They do have their limits. Why should they make up a state's shortfall just because they have a bad habit? Why not tax country club residents, golfers, surtax on tennis balls, boat dock taxes, people that drive 4 X 4s. I mean, there's plenty of other ways to tax select groups of people according to their habits or rituals even if some of them aren't BAD according to society. In the end, none is truly fair. Only across the board taxes are fair, perhaps with a sliding scale, depending upon your wealth. If you want to really be fair, why not try taxing heavier the people that make enough that they won't even miss it? A sliding tax wouldn't be that unfair to those that make a lot. Give the little guy a break, it's about time.

    Or maybe we should just take a hard look at what put our state in this position, Ten Care, and other abusive government spending. Of course, that doesn't take into account increases in interstate commerce. I suppose those have hurt the tax base.

    Lex
     
  19. John Spencer

    John Spencer Supporting Actor

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  20. Danny Tse

    Danny Tse Producer

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    Over here in California, we have yet another budget crisis as well. And my boss has told us to be prepared to get paid the Federal minimum wage ($5.15/hour). While the California government say State workers will get paid in full, I will believe it when I see my next check.
    Don't these people know I need the $$$ to get my SACD player?? [​IMG]
     

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