jason mumpower

Comptroller launches new K-12 dashboard

Comptroller Jason Mumpower attends a State Funding Board meeting in Nashville on Nov. 17, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Comptroller Jason Mumpower’s office has launched a new online dashboard detailing key data about K-12 public education.

Here’s the release:

The Tennessee Comptroller’s Office of Research and Education Accountability (OREA) has created an interactive online dashboard displaying key data about K-12 public education. The new dashboard includes data and trend lines on student demographics, salaries and personnel, and state and local revenues for education.

Users can toggle between districts to view district-level as well as statewide data.

The first tab of the dashboard highlights the total average daily membership (ADM) by year for each district. Additionally, each district’s ADM is broken down by demographic and special population category (students with disabilities, students who are economically disadvantaged, and students with limited English proficiency).

The second tab defines four position types (licensed educators, instructional personnel, classroom teachers, and principals) and gives the statewide average salary for each. Interactive graphs show the district’s personnel by position type, each position type’s average salary, and the percent increase in average salary from year to year.

The third tab displays state and local revenues for each district, including a percentage breakdown of state funding sources such as the Basic Education Program (BEP). The district’s annual dollar amount of BEP funding is highlighted as well as sources of local revenue.

OREA created a narrated video to accompany the dashboard, and both can be viewed at the Comptroller’s website: tncot.cc/orea.

The data used in the dashboard comes from a report published annually by the Tennessee Department of Education.

COVID czar launches website to apply for exemptions to vax mandate ban

Jason Mumpower presents a comptroller’s report in Nashville on Jan. 30, 2018. At left is Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville). (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Under a bill signed into law by Gov. Bill Lee on Friday, businesses are banned from requiring employees to prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Unless, that is, they are granted an exemption from Comptroller Jason Mumpower — who has been dubbed the COVID czar.

Mumpower’s office has launched a website to handle applications. Here’s the full release:

The Tennessee Comptroller’s Office has launched a new webpage that will allow Tennessee businesses, governmental entities, or schools to seek an exemption from House Bill No. 9077/Senate Bill No. 9014, which was signed into law on Friday, November 12.

The new law prohibits most Tennessee businesses from imposing a vaccine mandate unless they receive an exemption from the Comptroller’s Office.

An exemption may be granted by the Comptroller if an applicant can demonstrate that compliance with Chapter 2 or 6 of the new law would result in a loss of federal funding and an exemption is necessary to conform to a federally awarded or amended contract, subcontract, or postsecondary grant.

Exemptions granted by the Comptroller are not permanent and may be renewed for no more than one calendar year.

The Comptroller’s Office invites qualifying entities to begin submitting a notice for exemption by visiting comptroller.tn.gov/covidexemption. This webpage also includes program Guidelines and some frequently asked questions.

Applicants with questions about the exemption process can contact exempt@cot.tn.gov.

All hail Tennessee’s new COVID czar, Jason Mumpower

Jason Mumpower presents a report to lawmakers in Nashville on Jan. 30, 2018. At left is then-Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville). (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Amid heavy pushback from the business and education sectors about Republican lawmakers’ efforts to ban COVID-19 vaccine requirements for employees, the final version of the bill allows companies to apply for waivers in the event their federal funding might be jeopardized by following the new law.

To do so, they will have to submit applications to state Comptroller Jason Mumpower, who is empowered to set his own guidelines for what evidence will have to be handed in to make their case for an exemption.

Mumpower, incidentally, is a former state House Republican leader who is appointed by a joint convention of the General Assembly.

Here’s the language of the provision:

A provision of chapter 2 of this title does not apply to a private business, governmental entity, school, or employer that submits notice in writing to the comptroller of the treasury that compliance with a provision chapter 2 of this title would result in a loss of federal funding, to the extent such an exemption is necessary to conform to federally awarded or amended contracts, subcontracts, or postsecondary grants as a condition to receipt of federal funds. The comptroller of the treasury shall create guidelines as to what information is required in the notice. The comptroller shall review a notice submitted by a private business, governmental entity, school, or employer and, if the comptroller finds that compliance would result in a loss of federal funding, then the comptroller shall notify the private business, governmental entity, school, or employer in writing of its exemption.

Supporters said Mumpower’s office is a logical choice because it already handles a variety of contract issues. Opponents argue that at best the move creates another layer of red tape, and at worst gives lawmakers another chance to meddle in businesses’ internal workings.

Either way, Mumpower was quickly dubbed the COVID Czar.

Could a final decision on Forrest bust removal be near?

A sketch of Nathan Bedford Forrest used for a mural in the lobby of the John Sevier State Office Building in Nashville on Jan. 25,1941. (Image Credit: Tennessee State Library and Archives)

The yearslong fight over removing a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest could soon be coming to an end. The State Building Commission is scheduled to take up the matter on Thursday. If past voting patterns by the panel’s members hold, the monument could soon be headed for the Tennessee State Museum.

The Tennessee Lookout‘s Sam Stockard has taken a look at how it could play out:

The State Capitol Commission is set to request Thursday that the State Building Commission concur with its decision to relocate three busts, including one of Confederate Lt. Gen. Forrest, to the State Museum, moving them out of the State Capitol after years of upheaval.

To some degree, the decision pits Gov. Bill Lee against Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and House Speaker Cameron Sexton, who are likely to be outnumbered if they vote against the relocation. But it also could clear up a year-old legal question on the matter. 

One State Building Commission member who hasn’t participated in the process, Comptroller Jason Mumpower, indicated he is likely to vote for relocation. Three other members of the Building Commission have voted already to move the busts as members of other commissions.

“Based on a motion authored by my predecessor, Comptroller Emeritus Justin P. Wilson, the State Capitol Commission and Tennessee Historical Commission have previously agreed that the historical significance of these busts can be better reflected through display at the State Museum,” Mumpower said in a statement.

Lee, who last year sought removal of the Forrest bust from the State Capitol, has scheduled a press conference for Thursday morning, shortly before the State Building Commission is to meet. Its topic has not been revealed.

Read the rest here.

Tennessee in line to receive $8.56B from latest federal relief package

Gov. Bill Lee speaks to reporters outside the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville on Jan. 19, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Tennessee is projected to receive $8.56 billion in the latest round of federal COVID-19 relief funding, according to Gov. Bill Lee’s Financial Stimulus Accountability Group. That includes $4 billion to the state, $2.26 billion to local governments, and $2.3 billion to local school districts.

The state share includes $3.82 billion for the state fiscal recovery fund and $216 million for state coronavirus capital projects.

The local fiscal recovery fund includes $941 million for cities and $1.33 billion for counties.

“These funds represent an historic opportunity to make investments in your communities,” Comptroller Jason Mumpower said in a meeting of the financial group.

Wilson won’t run for another term as comptroller. Is the fix in for Mumpower?

Comptroller Justin Wilson, second from right, presides over a State Funding Board meeting on Jan. 21, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

With about a month left in his term, Comptroller Justin Wilson has made the surprise announcement he won’t seek a seventh term. Wilson, who was first elected to the position after Republicans gained an overall majority in the General Assembly in 2008, said he is endorsing his longtime deputy Jason Mumpower to succeed him.

“While the decision is yours, I am pleased to offer Jason my full and wholehearted endorsement to serve as Tennessee’s 35th Comptroller of the Treasury,” Wilson said.

While Wilson’s support for Mumpower is unsurprising — the two often parade around the legislative office complex in matching costumes — the last-minute timing is causing some gnashing of teeth in the Cordell Hull Building. With the holiday season upon us and the ongoing pandemic wreaking havoc on government activities, the deck will be stacked against any other candidate trying to drum up support for a rival bid.

A joint convention of the House and Senate elects the comptroller, meaning the lower chamber, where there are 73 Republicans, has the numerical advantage over the 27 GOP senators.

Here is Wilson’s letter to lawmakers:

Dear Members of the 112th General Assembly,

I write to you today with a tremendous sense of pride. Tennessee is doing just great.

For the last 12 years, I have commended you, the General Assembly, for your focus on the fundamentals of our financial strength. Our state continues to provide essential services to Tennesseans while remaining committed to low taxes, low debt, and strong financial management.

Tennessee’s fiscal stability has proven critically important as we have dealt with the economic challenges and uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.

Tennessee is well positioned for the future. As I have contemplated my own future, I have determined that now is the time for me to step aside. Although it has been my wonderful privilege to serve as your Comptroller, I will not seek a seventh term.

The General Assembly will have an important choice to make in January. I have encouraged Deputy Comptroller Jason Mumpower to seek election to the Office. While the decision is yours, I am pleased to offer Jason my full and wholehearted endorsement to serve as Tennessee’s 35th Comptroller of the Treasury.

Jason is the right person to lead our committed effort to provide independent audits, objective research, and most of all, conservative fiscal management. I know he cares deeply about our state and the Comptroller’s Office. Please join me in supporting Jason as Tennessee’s next Comptroller.

I do believe our Office is carrying out its mission to Make Government Work Better. It is a joy and an adventure to serve our state.

Sincerely, Your Beloved,

/signed/

Justin P. Wilson