Liggett sees Corker's point on debt

Friday, April 22, 2011

NASHVILLE -- America must stop spending more money than its revenue, Marshall County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett said after hearing Sen. Bob Corker at a Tennessee County Mayors Association banquet.

Corker "focused on the national debt," Liggett said Wednesday, another day for local officials to speak with state and national leaders in Nashville. "What they're doing now is fixing what they didn't fix before."

The gap between spending and revenue is almost four times the historic average, according to statistics cited by Corker, who has introduced legislation to "set an across-the-board, binding cap" on all federal spending.

"They will have to set a cap," Liggett reported from the association's dinner Tuesday night at the Sheraton Hotel near Capitol Hill.

"Somewhere down the line... we've got to stop spending more than what we're taking in," the county mayor said. "It'll be a hard pill to swallow."

The Commitment to American Prosperity Act, the "CAP Act," as proposed by Corker creates what he calls a "fiscal straitjacket" that would, according to his literature, "result in $7.6 trillion less spending over a 10-year period than projected current policy, and it would change the way Washington does business."

CAP is supported by Congressmen Jim Cooper (D) and Jimmy Duncan (R) who are seeking bipartisan support for the bill in the House, Corker's office reports.

In other state and federal relationships reported by Liggett on Thursday, Tom Fleming, the state treasury comptroller's director of local government, and an assistant for assessments, spoke of reapportionment of county districts since the 2010 census.

"This has to be completed by December of this year," Liggett said of reapportionment, a Constitutional mandate substantiated by the "one-man-one-vote ruling" in federal court.

Local political jurisdictional lines are to be drawn in such a way as to assure each district has the same number of people, within a certain tolerance of variation. The county attorney and elections administrator must be involved in the process, Liggett said.

While on Capitol Hill, the county mayor learned about legislation dealing with county election offices, he said. They are funded when county commissioners' adopt a budget, but the offices are partly controlled by the state elections office and its rules.

As a result, leaders of various counties and their lawmakers advocate a new law to have the state help pay legal bills when election commissions are sued, Liggett said. A lawsuit over the dismissal of an elections administrator has cost one county some $100,000.

In yet another meeting with state leaders, Liggett heard Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder report that some counties do not have veterans service officers. Marshall County has two veterans service men at the Hardison Office Annex on College Street. Because of their work, well over $1.5 million in federal assistance to veterans is paid to veterans living in Marshall County.