The Fish Aren't BitingThe Tennessee budget is being held up almost solely because of the fish hatchery proposal:
Both sides are to blame in this case. A long-term TWRA project should not be held hostage over the need of some people to settle political scores. Compared to the amount of money the State is spending in Memphis and West Tennessee in a given month, $16 million for a fish hatchery in the part of our State that is always left behind in the end is but a drop in the bucket. At the same time, the Speaker needs to quit trying to sell the fish hatchery as a major jobs creator and something that is immediately necessary. We know it is needed to dramatically increase East Tennessee's trout supply and has real potential to bring in fishermen and related tourism to Upper East Tennessee, much of which hasn't enjoyed the economic boom that Sevier County has because of tourism. However, there is simply no way to know how deep the economic impact of the hatchery will be because it isn't in operation. We do know it will provide those of us who eat the trout from East Tennessee rivers and streams with a larger and possibly cleaner catch each year.
One thing the Carter County hatchery is not, however, is a pressing necessity. As with many other things in our State budget, it is not a need so urgent that we must move heaven and earth in order to have it. Many of our East Tennessee Representatives are right to argue that they are tired of standing by and watching us get nothing while Middle and West Tennessee get all the candy-there is a lot of truth to that. It is also true, however, that Kent Williams' seeming willingness to shut the State down if need be in order to get a fish hatchery has the look of political desperation. The hatchery an important project for the region and if it is really a part of TWRA's continuing plan for East Tennessee fisheries, TWRA needed to be the primary party pushing for it in this year's budget and the next. For the Speaker to be its primary proponent has all of the wrong kinds of political appearances both for him and the Tennessee General Assembly.
Labels: Tennessee politics