finance and adminstration

Tenn. joining evidence-based policy network

Senate Finance Chairman Bo Watson (R-Chattanooga) and other s check their watches awaiting the time for Gov. Bill Lee, right, to enter the House chamber to deliver his first State of the State address in Nashville on March 4, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Tennessee in joining a national evidence-based policymaking network, according to the Department of Finance and Administration. Here’s the release:

NASHVILLE — Tennessee is joining a network of states to advance state use of evidence-based policymaking. The Office of Evidence and Impact in the Department of Finance and Administration will join the Governing for Results Network, a community of state executive and legislative branch leaders who exchange insights and best practices for greater efficiencies and improved services to citizens. State Senator Bo Watson of Hixson, Tennessee will also participate in the network.

“Gov. Bill Lee made it a priority to place a greater focus on ensuring that we invest in what works to best serve citizens across the state,” OEI Director Christin Lotz said. “We’re excited to join with peer states and collaborate with others who are using data to examine policy outcomes to find the best ways of serving Tennesseans.”

“It’s exciting to be part of a network of states using data for budget and policy decisions, and to compare practices among states so we can all learn from each other,” Watson said. “I’m proud that the state has made this a priority and look forward to the positive outcomes that will result for Tennesseans.”

The project is a collaboration of the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Council of State Governments and the Policy Lab at Brown University. The trio of organizations bring leaders together to have candid conversations, share challenges and ideas, and learn from other states’ approaches. Legislators, legislative staff and executive branch leaders from ten other states—Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, New York, Rhode Island and Utah—comprise the network.

OEI was launched in the spring of 2019, now working with agencies to classify state programs based on the level of available supporting evidence and to follow the principles of evidence-based budgeting.

In 2020 and 2021, the national group Results For America named Tennessee one of the top states in the nation for using data to make decisions. OEI’s Lotz was selected in 2020 to serve on the Federal Advisory Committee on Data for Evidence Building, which makes recommendations to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget on how to improve data sharing and data linkage.

Sen. Watson was elected to the Senate in 2005, after first serving in the State House of Representatives. He is chairman of the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Rules Committee.

For more information about evidence-based budgeting, the framework for evaluating state programs or to meet the Office of Evidence and Impact team, visit their website at  https://www.tn.gov/finance/oei.html.

Capitol community mourns passing of Mike Dedmon

The state Capitol community is mourning the sudden passing of Mike Dedmon, the deputy budget director in the Department of Finance and Adminstration. The affable Dedmon recently celebrated 30 years of service, which spanned five governors and nine finance commissioners.

“This breaks my heart,” former Finance Commissioner Stuart McWhorter said in a tweet. “The State of TN lost an extremely valuable civil servant. Mike was one of the brightest individuals I knew who humbly did an important job behind the scenes.”

General fund revenues fell $651M short of projections in April

Tennessee general fund revenue collections in April fell $651 million short of the projections established before the the coronavirus pandemic wrought havoc on the state’s economy.

Corporate franchise and excise taxes fell $487 million short of estimates, though a large portion of that may be explained by the governor’s decision to delay the filing deadlinefrom April to July. Sales tax revenues were $61 million less than projected in the month.

April revenue collections reflect economic activity in March, meaning the full budget impact of the pandemic won’t likely reveal itself until next month’s figures are released.

Here is the release form the state Department of Finance & Administration:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration Commissioner Butch Eley today announced that revenues for April were less than the monthly revenues from the previous year. Overall state revenues for April were $1.3 billion, which is a negative growth rate of 39.75 percent compared to last year and $693.8 million less than the state budgeted.

“The signs of economic downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic have begun to appear in Tennessee’s April tax receipts,” Eley said. “April sales tax revenues, reflecting March taxable sales activity, were weakened as the state began to withdraw from its usual patterns of consumer spending by mid-month.  Franchise and excise tax receipts, along with Hall income and business taxes are also notably reduced due to filing extensions that will allow individuals and businesses to report their taxable activity later in the year.

“It has been 10 years since an economic downturn has impacted state revenues. The state’s large monthly revenue surpluses built up throughout the beginning of the year will now be tested as the pandemic’s impact begins to erase those gains.  Yet, we remain committed to keeping the state’s budget in balance despite the current challenges.”

Continue reading