Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles in the studio to comment upon the mood of a typical State of the State Address and plans for his county budget.
Leahy: We are joined in studio by our friend, mayor of Maury County. That bastion of freedom and that turbocharged engine of economic growth, Andy Ogles. Good morning, Andy.
Ogles: Good morning. How are you?
Leahy: I help start your day off with a smile every time you come in when I talk about Maury County. That bastion of freedom and that turbocharged engine of economic growth. It does not fail. Every time I use that phrase, which I think you originated. I’m pretty sure you did. A smile comes to your face.
Ogles: I’m proud of our community. We’ve persevered over these last two and a half years. It’s been a challenge for our economy nationally, and some parts of the country have fared better than others. And even within our great economy here in Tennessee, Maury County has been a diamond there, just shining.
Leahy: At 6:15 a.m. Scott Golden, chair of the Tennessee Republican Party, will join us. We’ll talk a little bit about eligibility to run for office in Tennessee. That’s been a controversial issue. It’s detailed and complex.
He’ll unravel that for us. Now I want to go back to Andy. Andy last night, a little bit of political theater, entertainment, if you will, and information. The governor, Bill Lee delivered a State of the State address at the Capitol. Have you ever attended a State of the State address?
Ogles: I have. It’s been a few years now, but typically the way it works is you’ll have both the House and the Senate Chambers all meet in one room. They can bring a guest so that the room is full.
And you’ll have some folks up in the galley above the balcony on each side if you will. And I was actually the guest of the speaker at the time, Beth Harwell.
Leahy: Now that’s interesting. The Speaker Beth Harwell.
Ogles: Over the years, as I’ve worked on conservative legislation, I developed good relationships with the lieutenant governors or the speakers, as those have changed over time.
And at that time, she and I were working on some important initiatives, and it made sense for her and for me, for us to be there and stand on some of those issues.
Leahy: What’s the experience like to be there?
Ogles: It’s really kind of cool because you’ve got the governor. Regardless of your political persuasion or who your preferred candidate was, the governor’s the governor, and he’s the CEO of the state. And you can disagree with him on policy points.
But he’s standing there, he’s delivering his or her vision for the state. And then you’ve got all the legislators, the elected officials, the people’s Houses, if you will, there and listening. And sometimes disagreeing kind of in their heads, you can hear the murmurs and shifting gears.
Leahy: You can hear the thoughts going, ‘Well, that’s a bunch of baloney.’ (Chuckles)
Ogles: And other times where they’ll kind of hit it out of the park and get some applause. And sometimes it’s cordial applause because oh, wait, this is where I’m supposed to clap and other times it’s genuine. (Leahy chuckles) It’s like going to Walmart at 5:00 a.m. It’s just people watching. (Laughter)
Leahy: That’s a good description of what it’s like. The actual nuts and bolts of the budget. This is a big-budget, $52 billion. He said the focus would be K-12 education, higher education, and improving transportation infrastructure.
I didn’t see any tax cuts which is important to me. I did see some things that were important to me but I want to talk to you about Maury County. You’re the mayor of Maury County. About 100,000 people there now?
Ogles: Yes. Just over.
Leahy: Just over. One of the fastest-growing counties in the state. And what impact will this budget have on Maury County?
Ogles: Maury County again, as you said, we’re one of the fastest-growing counties in the state. We’re number one for incoming investment for the state of Tennessee. We’re number one for job manufacturing, job growth.
And so education and education infrastructure is incredibly important. And one of the things as I look through the budget there’s $200 million set aside for TCAT infrastructure which is your technical colleges for welding and plumbing and some of the other things those trade skills that are attached to Columbia State Community College and other universities.
And in Maury County, we wanted to expand the campus of Columbia State for a number of years and we’ve been on the list. We’ve been on the list and we haven’t been able to get the funding for that building from the governor’s budget.
I’m hoping, I’m crossing my fingers as I look for a deep dive into the details that they’ll be funding there for that building.
Leahy: As the mayor of Maury County, that’s something very important to you.
Ogles: Absolutely. And we’re again one of the economic engines of Southern Middle Tennessee. So education is important.
Leahy: Turbocharged economic growth.
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