Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey has a bad habit of croonyism and cooking up special government deals for his friends. Sadly, for the Lt. Governor, it’s business as usual.
News Channel 4 has the most recent story:
Legislative Staffers Get Raises During Freeze
Those Given Pay Hikes Worked For Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey
The I-Team found Lt. Gov. and Speaker of the Senate Ron Ramsey approved pay hikes for 18 senate staffers last fiscal year at the same time both former Gov. Phil Bredesen and the Legislature didn’t allow raises for the other 42,825 employees of the state.
They even sent state workers a letter letting them know raises were not possible because of state budget constraints.
So how did these staffers get raises?
Records obtained by the I-Team show the staffers got what’s called a “classification upgrade.” That’s when a raise is given to keep a salary competitive.
These staffers didn’t get a promotion. They didn’t receive more schooling to earn a higher salary. They just got it because Ramsey felt they deserved it.
“There’s nothing wrong with that — nothing,” said Ramsey.
“Do you think the rest of state workers, when they learn of these classification upgrades, will feel that way?” asked I-Team reporter Caroline Moses.
“I do,” Ramsey said.
Not long ago, Ramsey was caught with his hand in the taxpayer cookie jar on behalf of his rich friend. The Daily News Journal broke the story, but their archives have covered up the story. The Knoxville News Sentinel blogged about it though.
Ramsey seeks to reduce friend’s property taxes
Murfreesboro’s Daily News Journal had a great real-estate scoop this week:
A developer with 187 acres of vacant land off Medical Center Parkway would get a $273,058 tax break if proposed legislation by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey were the law today.
Ramsey’s bill would cap appraisal increases on vacant land at 25 percent …
Ramsey, an East Tennessee Republican, said he came up with the idea after learning his friend and constituent C.M. Gatton of Bristol faces the higher tax bill based on land in Murfreesboro he owns that was recently reappraised at about $30 million …
If (the assessor’s) value remains in place, Gatton faces an annual tax bill of about $282,758 for both commercial and residential land. That’s in addition to city taxes owed on the property.
“Nobody can afford that,” Ramsey said during a phone interview this past week.
The Daily News Journal was none too happy with Ramsey’s legislative meddling:
Editorial: Lt. Gov.’s tax break bill unfair to county
12:00 AM, Apr. 14, 2011
But Ramsey, who admitted he came up with the idea for the bill after learning about Gatton’s situation, wants to help his friend even more. Under his proposed legislation, the reappraisal would only raise the value of Gatton’s land to $1.6 million, resulting in an annual tax bill of $9,701.
“It’s not fair,” Boner told The Daily News Journal. “I’m not against a rich man making millions, but he still has to pay his fair share of taxes. … If they pass this law, it’s not going to be good to anybody. It’s going to cost the county billions in assessed value. It will be millions in tax dollars.
“Somebody is going to make up the difference.”
And that “somebody,” Boner refers to, is the rest of us taxpayers.
More than lost revenue, this bill is just plain wrong and an abuse of office by the lieutenant governor. It is a favor for a friend that could have far-reaching effects on our county’s strained coffers as well as those of others.
Ramsey’s legislation has not moved through the General Assembly’s committee process, and we hope it never does.