Washington Correspondent Neil McCabe Answers the Question of the Day, What Is Infrastructure?

Wednesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, guest host Ben Cunningham welcomed Washington Correspondent Neil McCabe to the newsmakers line to weigh in on the definition of infrastructure, budget reconciliation process, and the filibuster.

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Republicans Release Plan to Address Growing Inflation Under Biden Administration

High gas prices

Congressional Republicans grabbed headlines this week after releasing an aggressive budget they say would cut taxes and spending, but key measures in the plan also would address one of the country’s most serious economic problems.

The House’s Republican Study Committee released a budget that lays out several measures to deal with inflation, a growing concern among economists after the latest federal data showed a spike in consumer prices. Notably, the index for used cars and trucks rose 10%, the largest one-month increase since BLS began recording the data in 1953. Food and energy costs rose 0.9% in the month of April, prescription drugs rose 0.5%, and gasoline rose 1.4% during the same month. The energy cost index rose 25% in the previous 12 months.

Republicans on the committee say their plan would address concerns over inflation by balancing the budget within five years, thereby eliminating the need to monetize debt, a process where the federal government prints money to make payments on what it owes. The national debt has soared to more than $28 trillion and is expected to continue climbing under President Joe Biden’s new spending plans.

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Whitmer, Legislature Reach Deal on COVID-19 Restrictions, Collaborate Spending Billions

After 14 months of fighting over COVID-19 policy, GOP leaders and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer reached an agreement Thursday to negotiate the state budget and stimulus money in return for setting a date to end COVID-19 restrictions.

In return, Whitmer has agreed to withdraw the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (MIOSHA) proposed permanent rules and discuss legislative input on epidemic orders.

“Throughout the pandemic, we saw Michiganders all over the state step up and come together to slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives,” Whitmer said in s statement. “Now, Michigan’s task is to unleash the potential of our people, to drive innovation and investment, and create tens of thousands of jobs and economic prosperity for all. Together, we can stay laser-focused on growing the economy and getting Michiganders back to work. Let’s hit the gas.”

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Commentary: Price Stability, not Inflation, Will Get the U.S. Economy Back to Full Employment Sooner Rather than Later

2020 and 2021 are two sides of the same coin: Price instability brought about by the dollar being either relatively too strong or too weak, which can lead to or exacerbate economic slowdowns, creating higher unemployment and worse if the conditions persist for too long.

In 2020, at the height of the Covid pandemic, the problems included the global economy being shut down plus local lockdowns resulting in a massive recession and a flight to safety into U.S. treasuries as interest rates collapsed, making the dollar too strong. With the onset of deflation, consumer prices plummeted in March and April 2020, with oil even dropping briefly below zero dollars for the first time in history, and a concurrent rise of unemployment as 25 million Americans lost their jobs.

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Tennessee’s Revenues in April Push Budget Surplus to over $2 Billion with Three Months Remaining in the Fiscal Year

Higher than expected revenues for the month of April resulted in the state’s budget surplus exceeding $2 billion with three months remaining in the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

Commissioner of Tennessee’s Department of Finance and Administration Butch Eley made the announcement Friday that April revenues of $2.5 billion resulted in a $596.7 million surplus for the month of April 2021.

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Davidson County Metro Council Member-at-Large Steve Glover on Nashville’s Budget Handover and Fiscal Irresponsiblity

Monday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Metro Council Member-at-Large Steve Glover in studio to discuss the Davidson County budget proceedings and referenced a debilitating Wall Street Journal article that puts Nashville in a fiscally negative light.

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Davidson County City Council Member and Republican Steve Glover Reacts to Nashville Mention in WSJ Article and State of Metro Address

Monday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Metro Council Member-at-Large Steve Glover to the studio to weigh in on the overspending by Metro Government, the failures of Mayor Coopers State of Metro address issues, and recent Wall Street Journal piece.

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Florida Legislature Passes $101.5 Billion Budget

Florida Senate Capitol

Friday marked the last day of the legislative session, and the state legislature agreed upon a record-setting budget bill. 

“State lawmakers on Friday signed off on a record $101.5 billion on the state budget that has left both Republicans and Democrats happy — mostly,” The Tampa Bay Times reported. 

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DeWine Signs $8.3B, Two-Year Ohio Transportation Budget

Highway with cars

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine praised the $8.3 billion state transportation budget he signed into law despite it missing the increased vehicle fees and massive cuts for public transportation he proposed.

The two-year budget, House Bill 74, provides money for road and bridge construction and maintenance, as well as other transportation priorities established by the committees in the House and Senate, along with DeWine.

“The budget ensures that we can continue to maintain and invest in Ohio’s roadways,” DeWine said Wednesday. “Ohio’s transportation system continues to be a critical part of our economy, moving materials and people safely across our state. This budget advances our commitment to invest in state and locally-maintained roadways.”

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Georgia Legislature Approves $27B Budget for New Fiscal Year

Blake Tillery

The Georgia General Assembly has approved a $27.2 billion spending plan for the 2022 fiscal year, which starts July 1.

The Senate and House agreed to spend more money on health care, education, transportation, state positions, internet access and economic initiatives.

The House approved the measure, 148-21, late Wednesday night after it cleared the Senate unanimously, 52-0. Lawmakers now must send the proposal for state spending through June 30, 2022, to Gov. Brian Kemp for consideration.

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Ohio Legislature Passes Transportation Budget with Additional Allocations

The Ohio Senate approved more than $8 billion it hopes will spur both economic development and job growth while tackling the state’s transportation needs over the next two years.

The state’s proposed transportation budget passed the Senate unanimously Thursday with some adjustments made by the Senate, including additional money for public transportation, local road projects and emergency road repair. It also requires the Ohio Department of Transportation to reopen currently decommissioned weigh stations to serve as overnight parking areas for commercial truckers.

“This transportation budget makes critical investments in Ohio’s communities and local infrastructure,” said Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima. “I am confident House Bill 74 will improve roads and infrastructure that Ohioans use every day and will enhance Ohio’s economy and promote job growth.”

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State Revenues in February Exceeded the Budget by $191 Million, Puts Fiscal Year Surplus at $1.3 Billion

Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration Butch Eley announced Friday that tax revenues to the state for the month of February exceeded the budgeted estimates by $190.9 million, which puts the fiscal year surplus at $1.3 billion.

February revenues of $1.13 billion represent an 11.06 percent growth rate or $112.7 million more than February of last year.

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Virginia Budget Agreement Includes Five Percent Teacher Pay Raise, Tax Relief for Businesses

A Virginia budget compromise will include a 5% pay raise for teachers and tax relief for businesses negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic after several weeks of debate among lawmakers.

The budget legislation still needs to pass both chambers of the General Assembly, which is expected. Then, the bills will head to Gov. Ralph Northam’s desk at which time he can choose to sign the legislation or propose changes to it and send it back to the legislature.

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Tennessee Democrats Call for $1B Investment in a ‘Path to Recovery’

Tennessee Senate Democrats are calling for a $1 billion investment in public health clinics, school renovation, clean energy jobs and broadband internet expansion ahead of Gov. Bill Lee’s State of the State address Monday.

In a statewide address Friday aired virtually from her home in Memphis, Senate Democratic Caucus Chairwoman Raumesh Akbari proposed a plan dubbed the “Tennessee Path to Recovery” and called on Republican colleagues to work together to address issues facing Tennessee’s working-class families.

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Ohio Governor Orders Millions More in Cuts to State Agencies

Saying immediate actions are necessary to keep the state’s budget balanced, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine ordered hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to state agencies.

“In the springtime, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy, and Ohio’s revenue, was dire. With this, reductions were made to the state biennial budget,” DeWine said. “With this executive order, we are finalizing current year budget reductions at $390 million across all agencies, which is less than the cuts implemented last year.”

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Michigan State Administrators Project $1.24 Billion Tax Shortfall for 2020

Michigan’s General Fund and School Aid Fund tax revenues dropped $1.24 billion since January 2020, according to figures released Friday by state administrators and fiscal analysts.

The latest state consensus revenue estimating conference also projected an $84 million shortfall for 2021.

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New House Rules Carve-Out for ‘Climate Change’ Bills Exempted from Requiring Projected Price Tag

House Democrats blocked a Republican attempt on Monday to require any proposed climate change legislation to also include its projected cost.

Under the Pay As You Go (PAYGO) rule, any additional government spending proposed must be accompanied by tax increases or separate cuts. After a push from several lawmakers in the Democratic Party’s progressive wing, however, the rules package for the 117th Congress states PAYGO will not apply to legislation relating to the necessary economic recovery or U.S. efforts to combat climate change.

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Tennessee’s November Revenue Exceeds Budget Estimate by $129M

Tennessee tax revenue exceeded the state’s budget estimate by $129.5 million in November, continuing a four-month streak of positive revenue after declines in April, May and June.

The Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration said overall state revenue in November was $1.1 billion – nearly 2% more than a year ago. In the first four months of the fiscal year, tax revenue collections exceeded budgeted estimates by $576 million.

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Tennessee’s Year-to-Date Budget Surplus is Up to $447 Million

Three months into the 2020-2021 fiscal year, Tennessee’s actual revenues have exceeded the budget to create a $447 million surplus.

The surplus represents revenues that are 13 percent over and above the budgeted revenues through October and the fourth month in a row of budget surpluses.

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Groups Applaud Budget Deal While Others Criticize Taxpayer-Funded ‘Pet Projects’

Michigan leaders sealed a $62.8 billion fiscal 2021 budget agreement, increasing spending by billions from last year’s initial budget even after state revenue plummeted from COVID-19 and policies placed to curb its spread.

Experts previously estimated Michigan’s revenue would drop by $6.3 billion over the next two fiscal years.

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State Revenues $115.1 Million More than Budgeted for First Month of Fiscal Year 2021-2022

Tennessee revenues exceeded budgeted estimates for the first month of the state’s 2021-2022 fiscal year by $115.1 million, Department of Finance and Administration Commissioner Butch Eley reported Monday.

Total state revenues for August, the first month of the fiscal year on an accrual basis, were $1.16 billion, which is $22 million more than August 2019 and 11 percent more than the budgeted estimate for the month.

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Tennessee Revenues for July Exceed Budget Estimate by $667.1 Million

Tennessee tax revenues for the month of July exceeded the budgeted estimate by $667.1 million, Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration Commissioner Butch Eley announced Thursday.

Overall revenues of $1.86 billion in July were $689.4 million more than state revenues in July 2019.

The higher-than-expected revenues for July has the state finishing the 2019-2020 fiscal year in a surplus position of $369.2 million against the budgeted estimate and 2.42 percent above last year, despite the impacts of the COVID-19 economic slowdown.

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Comer Barn: Sumner County’s ‘Gift’ from Rogers Group Inc.

The Comer Barn was a “gift” to Sumner County from Rogers Group Inc. by way of a deed that had no funds involved, County Executive Anthony Holt announced to Sumner County Board of Commission members at several committee meetings in April 2016.

The old and picturesque stone horse barn, considered by many as a historic structure, is located on Highway 31 between Gallatin and Hendersonville on the property of one of Rogers Group’s quarries.  Rogers Group is a road paver and builder, asphalt supplier and the largest privately-owned crushed stone, sand and gravel mix company in the U.S.

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Ohio Ends 2020 Fiscal Year with General Tax Revenue Down $1.1 Billion

Ohio concluded the 2020 fiscal year with General Revenue Fund tax revenues of $1.1 billion, or 4.6 percent, below estimates, a clear indication of the impact the COVID-19 restrictions have had on the state.

Tax revenues in June were $50.5 million, or 2.2 percent, below estimate. However, state officials noted that revenues were better than a month earlier when they were 13 percent below expectations.

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Armstrong Williams Commentary: It’s Time to Talk About Recession

Is America in a recession? It’s an unpopular question to ask, but it has now been over 3 months since COVID-19 restrictions were initiated and it is time for us to get realistic about where we are economically so that we can take the proper steps to minimize further damage to our economy. At this point, the unfortunate reality is that regardless of what we do, it is likely that it will take at least several years to see a partial recovery of economic loss and the time that it will take for a complete recovery remains unknown at this point. 

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Nashville Metro Council Passes Record 34 Percent Property Tax Hike, Includes Employee Raises and More Police Funding

During another lengthy meeting that began Tuesday night and went into Wednesday morning, by a 32 to 8 vote the Nashville Metro Council passed a budget that includes a record 34 percent property tax increase, increased funding for police, cost-of-living raises to city employees, increases funding to the school district as well as funding for a school district minimum wage of $15 per hour.

The Council-approved property tax increase is even higher than the 32 percent increase that Mayor John Cooper called for in his budget proposal.

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State Lawmakers Will Have to Reconcile the House Budget Proposal That Gives Tax Dollars Back to Citizens and Makes Deeper Cuts Than the Senate Version

As the second session of the 111th Tennessee General Assembly winds down, the House and Senate will need to reconcile their two different budget proposals to close out the current fiscal year and for the upcoming fiscal year 2021.

The Senate version passed with a vote of 27 Ayes, 1 No and 2 Present and Not Voting during the June 11 floor session.

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Grassroots Groups Pledge to Recall Nashville Mayor and Council Members Who Vote for a Property Tax Increase

The Nashville grassroots group NoTax4Nash announced that it and other like-minded groups pledge to recall Mayor John Cooper and any members of the Metro Nashville Council who vote for a property tax increase without an audit to determine if there is need for one.

The NoTax4Nash pledge comes as the Metro Council is scheduled to vote on Mayor John Cooper’s proposed budget Tuesday, June 16.

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Minnesota Lawmakers Unveil $300M Plan to Rebuild from George Floyd Riots

Democrats who control the Minnesota House announced a $300 million economic aid proposal Monday for businesses that were damaged or destroyed during the civil unrest over the death of George Floyd.

The legislation is aimed at commercial corridors in lower income neighborhoods that were hardest hit as protests over Floyd’s May 25 death while in Minneapolis police custody turned violent. Many of the affected small businesses along Lake Street and Broadway Avenue in Minneapolis, and University Avenue in St. Paul, are owned by people of color and immigrants.

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Tennessee’s May Revenues Nearly 16 Percent Less Than May 2019 Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

The May revenues announced by Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration Commissioner Butch Eley Monday showed a negative growth rate of 15.83 percent compared to a year ago.

The state’s revenues of $981.9 million were $197.3 million less than budgeted and $184.7 million less than May 2019, according to the department’s news release.

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Metro Councilman Glover and Nashville Business Owner Call for More Time for the Budget

Metro Councilman-at-Large Steve Glover and owner of Peg Leg Porker, Carey Bringle, called for at least another week to review the city’s budget for the upcoming 2021 fiscal year.

Glover has been outspoken about Mayor Cooper’s 32 percent proposed property tax increase, and native Nashvillian Pringle made news when he shared his scathing letter to Mayor Cooper and the Metro Council about the proposed property tax increase.

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Analysis: The Connection Between the George Floyd Protest, the Nashville Budget, and ‘Killer Bill’

There have been a number and variety of both high-profile and lesser-publicized events in Nashville that at first glance are seemingly unrelated – but are actually connected by way of the groups that have been involved with them.

The first and most notable event took place on Saturday, May 30, when the Music City’s protests over the death of George Floyd on May 25 turned into a violent riot.

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Tennessee Lt. Governor Suggests Annual Sales Tax Holiday May Be Off the Table This Year

Lt. Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) suggested that the annual sales tax holiday is one of the things that would not be done this summer to help compensate for the state’s revenue shortfalls.

The revelation by the lieutenant governor was included in a WBIR 10News report in conjunction with adjustments the Tennessee General Assembly expects to make to the fiscal year 2021 budget.

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Citizens Fight Back Against Mayor John Cooper’s Proposed 32 Percent Property Tax Increase

At least two citizen-led efforts are underway to fight back against Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s proposed 32 percent property tax increase.

Cooper unveiled his $2.447 billion budget for the fiscal year 2021 – an increase of $332 million over the current year late last month, The Tennessee Star reported.

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Volunteer Effort Seeks to Get a Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act on the Ballot in December

A volunteer effort is seeking to protect taxpayers from reckless government spending by putting a Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act on the ballot in December.

The goal of this act is to force the government to be fiscally responsible through a series of amendments to the charter of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County.

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Nashville Has Reportedly Suffered the Steepest COVID-19 Consumer Spending Drop in the Nation

Nashville has suffered the steepest drop in consumer spending of any major metropolitan area in the U.S due to COVID-19, according to a report Wednesday in the Nashville Business Journal.

The Journal used information obtained from Harvard’s new Opportunity Insights Economic Tracker, working with Brown University and the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation to pull data from a variety of sources.

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Mayor John Cooper’s Five Percent Budget Increase Will Come on the Backs of Nashville Property Owners

Mayor John Cooper’s budget for the 2021 Fiscal Year (FY) includes a five percent increase in spending, which will come at the expense of Nashville property owners by way of a 32 percent property tax increase.

The record-high budget of $2.45 billion is Cooper’s first, and comes on the heels of a devastating tornado on March 3 and during a worldwide coronavirus pandemic which resulted in major losses of personal property and income for Nashvillians.

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Tennessee Revenues for March Exceeded Budget by $62.1 Million

Commissioner of Finance and Administration Butch Eley announced Monday that the Tennessee’s tax revenues exceeded budgeted estimates for the month of March by $62.1 million, despite the anticipated impact of the coronavirus.

Eley was named to the new post by Governor Bill Lee on April 15, while also serving as the Chief Operating Officer for the state. Prior to joining Governor Lee’s administration, he was a founder and CEO of Infrastructure Corporation of America, an infrastructure asset maintenance management company and a partner at the Ingram Group.

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‘Copeland Cap’ Hits Decade-Long High in Fiscal Year 2019-2020

A bill passed by the Tennessee General Assembly last week reveals that in fiscal year 2019-2020 the Copeland Cap, at $629 million or 3.6 percent, hit its highest level in more than a decade.

The legislation, which passed as HB2819 in both chambers on March 19 with only one “no” vote by Democrat Representative G. A. Hardaway (D-Memphis), was one of the four bills addressed in an expedited fashion to enact a bare bones budget before lawmakers recessed until June 1 amid the COVID-19 health crisis, The Tennessee Star reported.

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Financial Expert Roy Matlock, Jr. Says ‘Stay Calm and Creative’ and for Small Businesses to Become ‘Digitally Agile’

On Thursday’s 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 Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Roy Matlock, Jr. to the newsmakers line.

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Tennessee General Assembly Continues Push to Wrap-Up Bills and Bare Bones Budget by Week’s End

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tennessee General Assembly continued its push Wednesday to wrap-up bills deemed necessary and a bare-bones budget by the end of the week, and possibly as early as end of day Thursday.

In keeping with that, a total of 20 subcommittee and committee meetings were scheduled for Wednesday, 15 for the House and five for the Senate, in addition to a floor session for each chamber.

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Tennessee General Assembly Addresses Procedures and Bills Deemed Necessary to Pass a Budget for Fiscal Year 2021, Including Two That Raise Taxes

The Tennessee General Assembly adjusted schedules at the start of the week for Tuesday to address only those procedures and bills deemed necessary to fulfill the constitutional requirement of passing a balanced budget for fiscal year 2021, which runs July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021.

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Michigan House Bill Package Looks to Find $800 Million Annually to Fix Local Roads Without Tax Hike

road construction

A House bill package seeks to put about $800 million annually into local roads without a 45-cent gas tax hike or increasing future debt.

The six-bill package, if enacted, would eliminate the six percent sales tax on fuel over three years and replace it with another excise tax that would fund the 92 percent of local roads that aren’t touched by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s $3.5 billion bonding plan.

Much of that bonding money would go to repair roads in Metro Detroit.

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Metro Council Member Steve Glover Talks Nashville’s Fiscal Fact Versus Fiction and the Need to Curb Unnecessary Spending

  Live from music row Monday 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 am to 8:00 am – host Leahy and all-star panelist Crom Carmichael welcomed in-studio guest Metro Councilman Steve Glover to the show. At the top…

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