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Lawmakers discuss state's money
Tennessee state Sen. Janice Bowling.

Now that the state is swimming in cash, what do the lawmakers who represent Warren County propose we do with some of that money?
"We've talked about giving $1 million to each county's road superintendent to allow them to get caught up on projects," said state Sen. Janice Bowling.
Her comments came Friday morning during the annual Chamber of Commerce Legislative Breakfast at the Nursery Research Center.
Added state Rep. Kevin Dunlap, "There is $10 million for grants that will go for spec buildings in rural areas." Dunlap added there is talk about increasing that figure as an economic development driver.
State Rep. Judd Matheny said the state has facilities which could use upgrading such as the very center where the Legislative Breakfast was being held.
"There is a bill to reimburse the city of McMinnville for $45,000 for the money it's going to spend for the Driver Testing Center," said Matheny.
The city has agreed to spend up to $50,000 to renovate the City Hall basement for the center.
Bowling said the bill is just for $45,000 and not the full cost the city will incur because $50,000 is a threshold which draws more attention on Capitol Hill and $45,000 is apt to slip through without attracting as much attention.
The lawmakers were asked about money that's earmarked for incarcerating criminals and about possible early release programs for certain offenders.
Bowling said she's a big supporter of an inmate re-entry program for non-sexual and non-violent offenders. "This is where you help people get back in the workforce," she said.
Matheny said he's in favor of giving people a second chance because, "There are too many people who have made a one-time mistake and that's preventing them from getting a professional license."
All three lawmakers express opposition to a Gov. Bill Haslam plan to separate schools in the Tennessee Board of Regents system and have them operate independently.
Said Bowling, "When you allow those schools to become independent, where everything we worked on before was on alignment, things are going to be less stable."
Matheny said he was going to vote against the governor's plan.
"If you have six different systems, you know as well as I do that one is going to be favored over the other," said Matheny.
Dunlap added that the Board of Regents system provides "strength in numbers."
Dunlap is nearing the end of his first term and says the General Assembly isn't always a place for political victories.
"Not every day is a day where you have wins," said Dunlap. "I try to build relationships and build consensuses to where our government works and the best laws are the laws which have bipartisan support where Democrats and Republicans are working together."
Any who would like to hear a broadcast of the Legislative Breakfast can do so by listening to WCPI 91.3 FM this Monday at 11 a.m.