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The Tennessee Promise Would MakeHigher Education Free for First Two Years

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has a plan to reduce the cost of higher education for his state’s students. Under the Tennessee Promise, which Haslam proposed in his recent State of the State address, the state would allow students to attend a community college or a college of applied technology for free, according to Clarksville Online.
After completing two years of study at the community college level, students who elect to attend a four-year college or university will start as juniors via the state’s transfer pathways program.
“Through the ‘Tennessee Promise,’ we are fighting the rising cost of higher education and we are raising our expectations as a state,” Haslam said. “We are committed to making a clear statement to families that education beyond high school is a priority in the state of Tennessee.”
The proposal is a part of the governor’s “Drive to 55” initiative. The goal of the initiative is to increase the number of residents with a college degree or certificate from 32 percent to 55 percent by 2025. 
In an effort to encourage students to attend two-year colleges first, the program would reduce the current $4,000 lottery scholarship for four-year colleges to $3,000 for first- and second-year students, and raise the scholarship to $5,000 for third- and fourth-year students.
Proposed funding for the program, estimated to cost $34 million annually, would be in the form of an endowment comprised of lottery reserve funds. The state now has about $400 million in reserves.
 
ELECTION POLLING
Media outlets in Kentucky will be collaborating to deliver more comprehensive public polling results during the 2014 election cycle. The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that four of the commonwealth’s news leaders—The Herald-Leader and WKYT in Lexington, and The Courier-Journal and WHAS in Louisville—will provide more detailed insights into public opinions during the campaign season.
 
JUVENILE SENTENCES
Following a U.S. Supreme Court decision, the Missouri General Assembly will determine how to adjust state laws to eliminate mandatory life sentences for juvenile offenders, according to The Missourian. Legislators are considering allowing juveniles to ask for a new sentence and creating new sentencing guidelines for future offenders.

TEXAS, EPA DEAL
Federal and state officials in Texas have agreed on environmental regulations affecting some of the nation’s largest refineries, the Houston Chronicle reported. The new arrangement allows more operational flexibility for industry while maintaining clean air standards and continuous oversight for individual polluting units. The agreement comes four years after the EPA initially overturned a state permit program.

STORM PREPARATIONS
Georgia has started to review plans to mitigate complications encountered during a rare snowstorm that passed through the state in January, The Wall Street Journal reported. Coordination among city, state, school and business officials will be a major part of the discussion. State officials also will evaluate the resources available to prepare and respond to snow events.

AMAZON TAXES
North Carolina could collect up to $43 million in revenue from online sales through Amazon, which announced it would start collecting sales taxes on online purchases in the state beginning Feb. 1. The North Carolina General Assembly estimates that at the 6.75 percent sales tax rate levied throughout most of the states, online sales could provide a $20 million to $30 million boost to state tax collections, and $10 million to $13 million to local governments, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.
 
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