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State Senator Doug Overbey (right), squared off with challenger, Scott Hughes, in a debate Thursday night.
Candidates for state representative and state senate met Thursday in a pre-early voting debate at the Tennessee Shindig in Pigeon Forge.
Incumbent State Rep. Richard Montgomery squared off against his challenger Dale Carr and State Senator Doug Overbey went head-to-head with his challenger Scott Hughes.
The Overbey-Hughes debate became, at times, more of a sparring match than a debate. Overbey found himself on the defensive against Hughes who chided the incumbent and questioned his efforts to create jobs.
Overbey worked with other legislators to pass TNInvestco, a venture capital type program intended to create jobs through tax credits and grants. The program has created more than 300 jobs and retained an additional 700 jobs since the program’s inception. Hughes criticized the program because of what he called the high cost of jobs.
The program cost the state $65 million and received matching funds of $80 from outside sources. Hughes was critical of the fact that each job cost approximately $216,000. In his rebuttal, Overbey explained the state spent only $65 million which would access the cost of each job at $65,000.
“Government does not create Jobs,” Hughes said. “Government needs to get out of the way.”
Overbey took the opportunity to mention his role in cutting state government spending in spite of President Barack Obama’s call for state governments to increase their size.
“The President has said that state governments need to be bigger,” Overbey said. “I have worked to cut state spending by $2.5 billion.”
Hughes chastised Overbey for allegedly meeting with property developers of Belle Island who were seeking a premier resort status. According to published reports, Overbey reportedly met with developers and allegedly told them he would not support a bill giving the resort a preference which would allow them to sell liquor by the drink, but would find someone who would support the bill. Overbey denied the allegation and said he had been approached several times by developers but rejected their requests.
Overbey said giving the resort preference would not have been fair to other businesses.
Hughes responded by referring to Overbey as “An acting senator” and made reference to a story in the Mountain Press in which Overbey stated he had never been approached by anyone representing the resort. Overbey denied the published report and said he had been misquoted.
Overbey reminded those in attendance that he had voted against a state income tax and had worked to cut taxes. Hughes pledged to further cut taxes and repeal the haul tax in an effort to create jobs.
Early voting begins today and the election will be held August 2.
Governor Bill Haslam lent his support to State Rep. Richard Montgomery at a recent rally
More than 200 supporters and dignitaries appeared at a rally in support of State Representative Richard Montgomery and to meet Governor Bill Haslam who lent his support to Montgomery.The campaign kickoff was held at the home of Margit and Earl Worsham.
Haslam praised Montgomery for the work he has done serving the people of Sevier County in the Tennessee General Assembly.
Haslam noted the work Montgomery has done to promote job growth and to promote the interests of industry and tourism.
Haslam praised Montgomery for his work as Chairman of the House Education Committee and the work they have done to reform and to improve education. Recently, the TCAP scores were publicly disclosed reflecting amarked improvement.
Haslam noted the achievements of the past year's legislative session, such as, eliminating the Gift Tax, reducing the tax on food, phasing out the Death Tax, adding $50 Million to the state's Rainy Day Fund, Cutting $1 Billion from the budget, and increasing funding for education.
Haslam asked the attendees to talk to all their friends and family and vote for Montgomery to continue the work they have begun.
Haslam told supporters Montgomery has always been someone the Governor could count on which is why he came support him in his campaign.
"I believe the theme of the next General Assembly will continue to be based on Republican principles of: lower taxes, less regulation and smaller government. I will continue to fight for the people of Sevier County and work to ensure that their interests will be protected." Montgomery said.
The release of this year’s TCAP scores revealed growth in 23 of 24 tested subjects. The biggest gains were in math and science scores, which in grades 3-8 saw a 6 percent increase in proficiency levels. Algebra I scores saw a growth of 8.5 percentage points.
Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) and House Education Chairman Richard Montgomery (R-Sevierville) made the following statements today regarding the release of improved Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) scores:
“The General Assembly has made reforming education a priority over the last several years as we implemented Race to the Top. As part of that process, we asked a lot ofour educators and students. Today, with the release of these results, I am very proud of our teachers and students across the state that met the challenge head on and exceeded our expectations. Tennessee students are ready to advance in their education andare on the path to a brighter future.”
-Speaker Beth Harwell
“When we implemented the Race to the Top program two years ago, we asked more of teachers and students. Today, we know they answered that call. Our valued teachers havedone an excellent job reaching the very high bar we set, and there has been faster growth than expected in the critical subjects of science and math. As Chairman of the House Education Committee, I applaud the hard work of our educators and students on this significant accomplishment.”
-Chairman Richard Montgomery