Posts Tagged ‘transparency’

Subsidies to popular museums scrutinized

Fox 17 has a story about how some museums and tourist attractions receive taxpayer handouts, even though others that do not have much more visitors. Watch the entire interview here.

March 14th, 2014 | Recent News

Securing a Fiscally Sound Future for Tennessee

Securing a Fiscally Sound Future for Tennessee

Beacon proposes new calculations for the state spending limit 

NASHVILLE – The Beacon Center of Tennessee today released a proposal to the Tennessee General Assembly on recalculating the Copeland Cap, a state spending limit devised by former Rep. David Copeland and approved by voters to the state constitution in 1978. Currently, spending may increase at the same rate as the rise in the personal income, effectively meaning that Tennesseans must hand over more to the government as their personal financial circumstances improve. The Beacon Center’s more fiscally responsible approach calls on state lawmakers to instead base the calculation upon population growth plus the rate of inflation.

“Thanks to the leadership of Rep. Copeland, Tennessee’s spending cap has ensured limited growth in Tennessee’s budget, but in hindsight, it could be an even more effective tool to curb state spending—allowing hard-working Tennesseans to keep more of their own money,” explains Justin Owen, CEO of the Beacon Center and author of the brief. Since adopted in 1978, the Copeland Cap has been exceeded with regularity—only 18 times in 35 years has the legislature failed to exceed the cap.

Beacon’s proposed change to the calculation of the Copeland Cap spending limit is based on the assertion that as prosperity rises, Tennesseans will have less need for government services. Demand for government services decreases as citizens become increasingly able to provide for their own welfare. The Beacon Center maintains that lawmakers should not take advantage of increased taxpayer capacity to fund layers of unnecessary bureaucracy. A more appropriate and reasonable calculation would be to use population growth plus inflation, which more directly impact the state budget.

Amending the spending formula would also mean a savings to Tennessee taxpayers. Population plus inflation rates have jointly risen by approximately five percent per year since the enactment of the Copeland Cap, while personal income growth has risen by over six percent on average per year.

“This difference sounds modest, but in practice, it is significant,” Owen asserts. “Had the Copeland Cap been calculated using population plus inflation since its enactment in 1978, taxpayers would have saved more than $38 billion in the ensuing three-and-a-half decades. That amounts to more than $6,300 for every man, woman, and child in Tennessee. Not every taxpayer…every single person.”

The full brief, entitled Securing a Fiscally Sound Future for Tennessee, can be found here.

The Beacon Center of Tennessee is an independent, nonprofit, and nonpartisan organization dedicated to providing concerned citizens and public leaders with expert empirical research and timely free market solutions to public policy issues in Tennessee. The Center’s mission is to change lives through public policy by advancing the principles of free markets, individual liberty, and limited government.

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January 21st, 2014 | Feature, Policy

Law enforcement agencies receive a lump of coal for abusive practices

Law enforcement agencies receive a lump of coal for abusive practices

NASHVILLE – The Beacon Center of Tennessee today announced that Tennesseans have overwhelmingly chosen the 23rd Judicial District, and Cheatham, Dickson, and Humphreys Counties as the recipients of the 2013 Lump of Coal Award.

The Beacon Center awards this dubious distinction annually to the person or group in Tennessee who, more than any other during the past year, acted as a Grinch to Tennesseans by bah-humbugging the principles of liberty and limited government.

The judicial district and three counties have become infamous for their use of a controversial tactic known as “policing for profit.” Abusing the state’s civil forfeiture laws, the agencies have begun seizing cash, vehicles, and other personal items in traffic stops, forcing the property owner to prove that the cash or property was not related to criminal activity. Innocent victims often spend months attempting to recoup seized property, sometimes to no avail.

An in-depth documentary by Nashville’s NewsChannel 5 revealed troubling facts about the practice, such as substantially more traffic stops on westbound Interstate lanes—where cash proceeds from drug sales frequently flow—while drugs traveling in the eastbound lanes were reportedly allowed to pass unfettered. Officers were also caught on camera admitting that they had little evidence that property was associated with a crime before seizing it anyway.

After the Beacon Center narrowed the list of offenders down to four finalists, the recipient of the Lump of Coal Award was chosen directly by Tennesseans in an online poll. The four law enforcement agencies received the most votes for the not-so-coveted prize, beating out Metro Nashville Public Schools, the Department of Labor & Workforce Development, and Hemlock Semiconductor with 40 percent of the vote.

“Tennesseans have sent a clear message that ‘policing for profit’ will not be tolerated,” said Beacon CEO Justin Owen. “This practice turns the Constitution on its head, and it’s time for lawmakers to heed the outcry of law-abiding citizens who want their property rights protected from this abuse, while still preserving the authority of law enforcement to target criminals.”

State legislators have indicated that they will study this issue and offer possible reforms to the state’s civil forfeiture laws when they reconvene next month. Earlier this year, the Beacon Center published a policy brief on the practice, which can be found at http://www.beacontn.org/2013/03/the-perils-of-policing-for-profit/.

The Beacon Center of Tennessee’s mission is to change lives through public policy by advancing the principles of free markets, individual liberty, and limited government.

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December 17th, 2013 | Feature, Recent News

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