The students were assembled by First Lady Andrea Conte from
Would Democrat McWherter, for example, seek to restore financial aid for local high schools to participate in the International Baccalaureate program - a rigorous program of academic study that gives high school students several hours of college credit? "Yes!" he declared..
Haslam, the Republican, said TennCare will be among the programs that will have to be shrunk to deal with budget shortfalls and that some of the federal health plan mandates concern him.
On other topics:
· McWherter was asked about controversies over an Islamic mosque proposed in
"Now having said that, I think the people who committed the atrocity down there (in
· Haslam was asked whether he supports efforts by some legislators to nullify elements of the federal health reform act in Tennessee that require uninsured people who can afford to buy health insurance to buy plans or potentially face tax penalties. He responded: "I do wonder about a new plan that forces you to purchase something. I don't think we've ever done that in this country before. So that is a concern to me. Coming back to the big picture, I'm concerned long term about the cost of the health care plan. Whether it's an additional $200 million, the low-end estimate, or $400 million a year, it's going to cost us. The impact to the state is going to be big and its going to be felt somewhere along the way in other programs that you care about. I'm also concerned that employers might find it easier just to not pay insurance, have their employees go on TennCare and Medicaid, pay the penalty and come out ahead."
· McWherter was asked about the federal government's program that allows employers to electronically check the immigration status of potential hires and his view on sponsoring legislation creating "real consequences" for employers who are not validating status prior to hiring. Said McWherter: "This is one of those areas where I totally agree with Zach Wamp. He has talked about the fact that we need to do a much better job of making the E-Verification information available to employers. And I do think we need to make that information avail to employers. We need for them to know if there is an undocumented worker in their workforce, and frankly if there is and they're caught, we need to prosecute them and fine them. It creates a totally unfair advantage for small business in this state for those people who are using undocumented workers. You know they are not paying any kind of taxes on them, you know they're not providing health benefits. Those are expenses that small businesses normally incur and it gives those people an unfair advantage. We need to make sure we go after them. As governor, I'm going to do that."
· Haslam was asked his postion on universal health care and how it would affect
"My thought is, what we have to focus on in health care in
· McWherter was asked if he's in favor of
"I don't think there should be a patchwork of immigration laws all across the states. You're going to have a patchwork of immigration laws all across the states. If we're forced into that, then yes, I'm going to support it. But what I want to do right now is work with (
Haslam was asked how he would deal with a potential billion dollar budget shortfall when a recent congressionally approved increase in Medicaid funding for the state expires. He said: "We don't have a drawer full of money that we can (say) 'Oh that's a good program; lets keep paying for it.' In
"Our only choice is either to shrink government or to take that out of some other pot. It would mean taking money away from K-12 or higher education or money away from helping folks with mental disabilities. I can go on and on. We're going to have to shrink the size of state government and TennCare is going to be one of those places that happens."