Ah, Spring. That time of year when birds sing, bees buzz and some politicos get bitch slapped as the legislature goes all sine die on them. Fresh from our 3-day Easter break of church services and mimosas, we here at RTP want to join in on the fun and offer our own list of the Biggest Losers from the most recent General Assembly.
1. Common Core and S.C.O.R.E. — Jamie Woodson & Co. spent millions of other people’s money to push the Common Core agenda. In the end, they were forced to accept a delay in PARCC testing and require that the test be put out to bid.
While the governor, commissioner Kevin “I voted for Obama” Huffman and their apologists in the MSM (Chas, we’re looking in your direction….) try mightily to pooh-pooh the significance of the delay, insiders know better.
The effect of the delay means only that Common Core “lives to die another day.” Opponents are just getting warmed up. Look for spiraling test costs, pornographic reading lists, insider dealing on state contracts — the list goes on. Even the liberal bastion of news, the New York Times, this weekend offered a piece this weekend on the power of the Common Core issue to tranform internal Republican politics.
Strap in, guv. It’s going to be a bumpy summer.
2. Bill Haslam — only in the la-la world of HaslamLand, could one classify the stripping of 2/3 of the governor’s appointements to the textbook commission and the defeat of his agenda on vouchers, meth legislation, TVAAS and Common Core testing as a “win.” Following that reasoning, Derick Dooley actually went 3 and 0 in post season play while at Tennessee. Haslam is now facing the prospects of the longest lame duck tenure in Tennessee history as legislators circle his agenda, salivating without fear.
3. Beth Harwell and the House leadership — Caught almost completely by surprise, Harwell & Co. were bushwhacked on March 13th when House conservative Republicans combined with Dems and voted to gut Common Core. Harwell was only able to muster a lousy 11 votes from her own caucus in the final vote (and last time we checked, it is going to take at least 36 votes to get re-elected speaker). Only after getting bailed out by Ron Ramsey did Harwell cobble together a face-saving one-year delay in PARCC testing. But the net effect of her heroices is the guarantee that the Common Core issue is very much alive for next session. In the process of overriding the overwhelming opinion of the House against Common Core, Harwell has merely increased the distance between her and the growing conservative majority within her own caucus.
4. Charles Sargent — Sargent had possibly one of the worst sessions for someone facing a serious primary challenge. Whether he wins or loses his race won’t relieve the pressure on him and his notorius House Finance Committee. Sorry, Charlie.
5. The Fiscal Note — more on this later, but safe to say there is a growing and intense hatred of the House fiscal note rules that allows leadership to circumvent the will of the body and kill legislation they don’t like. Leadership knows full well that the abuse of the fiscal note is unethical and undemocratic. Look for them to try and “fine tune” the rules. Look for that to not work.
TOMMOROW: The Winners