Governor’s Budget Amendment Released

On Tuesday, the Haslam Administration released its proposed budget amendment.  The Administration’s budget amendment provides an opportunity to alter the original budget proposal based on the State’s revenue trends.

Citing strong sales tax numbers and revenue increases from “a one-time event,” the Administration amendment increases funding for education and health and doubles the contribution to the State’s ‘Rainy Day’ fund.

The proposed budget amendment designates $29 million in recurring dollars to K-12 education, specifically to increase state funding of health insurance coverage for teachers.
“All of our additional recurring money is going to fund K-12 education in addition to the $144 million from our original budget proposal.  We are also making significant investments in higher education,” Governor Haslam stated.

There are nearly $300 million more than anticipated in non-recurring funds.  As a result, the budget amendment proposal includes a number of non-recurring investments, including $120 million to fund the state’s commitment to a new Tennessee State Museum and $36.5 million in additional funding for the ‘Rainy Day’ Fund.

For UT specifically, the budget amendment includes:

  • $4.52 million in non-recurring capital outlay, to be divided as follows:
    • $1 million in construction funding for a new wind tunnel at the UT Space Institute
    • $3.52 million for additional capital maintenance projects at UT Martin and the UT Space Institute
  • $3 million in non-recurring revenue to support UT-ORNL’s Advanced Manufacturing initiatives and supplement a $250 million federal grant in this area

These proposed additions to the FY 2015-2016 budget will be considered by the legislature in the coming weeks.

Governor Haslam Names UT Alumnus Dwight Tarwater As General Counsel

Gov. Bill Haslam has announced that Dwight E. Tarwater will join his senior team as general counsel.  Tarwater replaces Herbert Slatery who left the administration in October to become the state’s attorney general.

Tarwater, 59, currently practices law in Knoxville in the law firm he helped begin in 1987, Paine, Tarwater and Bickers, LLP.  He has vast courtroom experience, having tried cases locally, across the state of Tennessee, and in several other states.  On appeal, he has represented clients before the Tennessee Court of Appeals, the Tennessee Supreme Court and in the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 4th, 6th, 10th, and 11th Circuits.

“I am very grateful to Dwight for his willingness to leave behind a highly successful career and the firm he has built from the ground up to join our staff,” Haslam said.  “His legal acumen, courtroom experience and steady demeanor will be assets to our senior team.”

A Knoxville native, Tarwater is listed in four separate categories in this year’s edition of the Best Lawyers in America, which is compiled through an exhaustive peer review survey of thousands of top lawyers across the country.   He was first listed in 2002 and has since been named Lawyer of the Year for the Knoxville area five times.

“I am honored to serve Gov. Haslam and his administration as he continues to lead our state forward to even greater success, and I am humbled by his confidence in me,” Tarwater said.

He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee, where he was elected a Torchbearer, the university’s highest honor. He received his law degree from the University of Tennessee College Of Law.  He served as law clerk to the Honorable Houston M. Goddard of the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

Tarwater has been a member of the Knoxville, Tennessee and American Bar Associations since his licensure in 1980.  He served as president of the Knoxville Barristers (Young Lawyers Division) in 1987 and on its Board of Governors from 1986 until 1988.  He served for nine years on the board of governors of the Knoxville Bar Association, as the bar’s secretary in 1988, president-elect in 1999 and as president in 2000. He served as East Tennessee governor of the Tennessee Bar Association in 1991-92 and on the board of the Tennessee Young Lawyers Conference in 1986-87.

He is a member of the Tennessee Association for Justice, the Defense Research Institute, the International Association of Defense Counsel, Litigation Counsel of America and the Trial Attorneys of America. In 2006, he became a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers.

He and his firm have made pro bono representation a priority. He has served on the board of directors of the Knoxville Legal Aid Society, Volunteer Legal Assistance Program, and Pro Bono Project. His firm has been honored with the Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year Award presented by Legal Aid of East Tennessee in 2010, 2012 and 2013.

He was a member of the 2002 Class of Leadership Knoxville and is a current board member of the East Tennessee Foundation.

Tarwater was married to the late Mary Flowers Tarwater for 34 years and has three children: Davis, a 2012 Olympic gold medalist; Katherine Freeman, a fourth grade teacher in Knox County; and Dwight, a basketball player at the University of California, Berkeley.

His first day in the governor’s office will be Monday, December 8.

UTHSC: A Proud Partner of the Governor’s Public Safety Task Force

Yesterday, the University of Tennessee joined hundreds of law enforcement and health professionals from across the state at the first ever statewide public safety forum. Joining Governor Haslam were Commissioners Dreyzehner (TN Department of Health), Gibbons (TN Department of Safety & Homeland Security), Varney (TN Department of Mental Health), Schofield (TN Department of Correction), and Hagerty (TN Department of Economic and Community Development) to present an update on the Governor’s Public Safety Action Plan. The Public Safety Action Plan is designed to have significant and measureable impacts on crime in Tennessee. The three key initiatives of the plan include reducing drug abuse and trafficking, reducing violent crime and reducing the number of repeat offenders.

The goal related to reducing drug abuse and trafficking contains specific actions relative to the Univeristy of Tennessee Health Science Center: Teaching medical and pharmacy students about prescription drug abuse, the prescription database system, and the laws in Tennessee that govern prescribers and dispensers.

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center is a proud partner in working with the Governor’s Public Safety Task Force to curb prescription drug abuse, a major concern for the Haslam administration.

Click on the video below to watch the Governor’s preview of the forum.

Governor Haslam Visits UTC: The Learning Laboratory Of Chattanooga

During his visit to Chattanooga for the Southern Growth Policies Board today, Governor Bill Haslam visited the University of Tennessee Chattanooga campus where he met with members of UTC’s administration and faculty.  The visit preempts a series of statewide discussions regarding higher education reform in Tennessee.  As recently as last week at the Board of Trustees meeting in Knoxville, the Governor stated that higher education would be his focus for the remainder of the year.  This will likely lead to a legislative package surrounding higher education for the upcoming legislative session.  Topics of particular interest to the Governor include workforce development, cost structure, and the number and quality of college graduates.

Continue reading