Haslam calls for end of 'partisan divide' during chamber speech

Tuesday, March 8, 2011 at 1:34pm

Gov. Bill Haslam called for bipartisan problem-solving Tuesday and dismissed rebukes from conservatives and liberals alike over his refusal to take positions on controversies in the rancorous legislative session.

“You hear criticism from all sides on this deal,” Haslam told reporters after speaking to the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. “At the end, I’m going to try to solve problems and fix things. I think that’s why Tennesseans elected me to be governor. I’m not going to be anything different than the same person I campaigned to be.”

Haslam caught it from both sides Saturday during dueling state Capitol protests by Tea Party activists and teachers’ union supporters. They denounced the governor for refusing to give his opinion of legislation to repeal the collective bargaining rights of teachers.

Democrats have accused the GOP of targeting their traditional political allies with a slew of bills this session. Ratcheting up the rhetoric, Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey said Democrats are “bought and paid for by the unions.”

Asked Tuesday about Ramsey’s remark, Haslam said: “Democrats have said certain things about Republicans and about me that I don’t particularly like. So that’s why I want to get past all of that. What can we really do to solve problems?”

Haslam said he’s concerned about the legislature’s acrimonious climate. He said he is trying to calm the waters.

“We’re actually having those conversations now with Republicans and Democrats,” the governor said. “We really don’t want to get to where Washington is — where good people don’t want to go there anymore to serve. If you ask me what my concern is off the last two or three weeks, it would be that. There has been more of a partisan divide, which I don’t think is healthy for solving problems.”

7 Comments on this post:

By: Ingleweird on 3/8/11 at 6:14

Mister Governor, what exactly do you consider to be "problems?" Are unions and workers' rights problematic for you? Democrats said certain things about Republicans and yourself that you don't like and are trying to get past? WAAAAAAAAH! You big wussy crybaby! You are the Governor, for Christ's sake, you need thicker skin than that! Were you blissfully unaware, during your campaign, that you might face some pesky partisan criticism after you took office? People's livelihoods and ability to provide for their families are being threatened; do you expect them to sit idly by as you and the rest of the GOP pull the carpet out from under them? Come clean; admit you don't give a damn about the working class. By supporting anti-union legislation you are not "solving problems," you are creating them.

By: FCMullins on 3/9/11 at 8:04

What I don't understand is why all the republicans are blaming unionized employees for so many of the state's financial problems. They have apparently forgotten that any union contract is a negotiation. If the elected officials feel there
are too many inequities in the present contract then re-negotiate, it takes both
sides for an approval.
Just because there might be room for improving what they have now doesn't
mean the whole idea should be thrown out so they can start all over with something

By: Community-carl-... on 3/9/11 at 8:10

I say kudos to Governor Haslam for taking the high road and trying to moderate the hateful, divided partisan climate in the political process. It is time for the politicians to focus on what is in the best interest of ALL the citizens served, rather than political party affiliations.

And speaking of unions......they have served their important purposes in times past, but now they have become too powerful and overbearing, often seeking outrageous benefits for employees they supposedly represent........often at the severe detriment of the actual employer......ultimately causing the failure of the employer resulting in the loss of the employee's jobs. (example: Peterbilt that was formerly in Madison, TN, before unreasonable union demands forced its closure.) Companies simply cannot pay out more in employee compensation and benefits than they take in and continue to remain in business. What United Auto Workers did to General Motors is another prime example of excessive union power.

By: pswindle on 3/9/11 at 2:38

Thank you Gov. Haslam for not putting TN where WI is today. The GOP will not win in the long-run if they try to take away teacher's rights or union rights. The next step would be like the Gov. of MI, he wants to do away with city's rights. They learned well from Bush/Cheney. It did not work for them and it will not work for fhe republicans now. We have have elections every 2, 4 and 6 years. That is when the situation will be corrected.

By: gdiafante on 3/9/11 at 3:00

Carl, I agree that unions have become burdensome in some instances, but so are corporations, are we going to ban them too?

The fact is that the GOP is union busting because it's a significant chunk of the Democrat vote. End of story. And this is not an idea that has a mandate from the people. See Wisconsin.

In fact, nationwide polling indicates that it's not a popular idea at all. And doing so will not create jobs or make education suddenly more efficient. This is a sideshow, as once again the politicians in charge sidestep what should be done in order to improve the economy and instead focus on idealogical nonsense in order to stir the base.

By: joe41 on 3/9/11 at 6:55

I don't think either side has a monopoly on the largesse of the current financial problems. The unions are not the problems that they are made out to be, however, I do agree that their efforts have hurt teaching and the schools. But the Republican party is not going about this the right way. We need to solve this problem or we will become a third rate country.

By: HokeyPokey on 3/10/11 at 6:54

In other words, "Ben Dover" for the Republican Majority. And squeal like a pig!