Sunday, August 13, 2006

NCSL Meeting in Nashville

The annual meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures will convene in Nashville beginning tomorrow. Your humble correspondent will be attending the conference and will post observations at this site, as appropriate.

Drew Johnson of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research complains that the conference will cost state taxpayers money, but his criticisms seem myopic. First, the allocated expenditure will be largely offset by the tourism dollars brought in by attendees of the event, and the value from a tourism perspective of an event bringing governmental leaders from across the nation to Nashville should be obvious.

Johnson also criticizes the fact that the state of Tennessee pays the membership dues of state legislators who are members of the organization; however, his criticisms are based on a jaded and incomplete description of what the organization does. Johnson describes this meeting as nothing more than an opportunity for legislators, lobbyists, and other people of questionable character to party together. However, the organization serves as a valuable resource for policy information on a variety of issues, and the conference includes a far ranging agenda on a number of public policy issues of importance. While Johnson thinks legislators should pay their own dues, I would only note that it is not uncommon for both public and private employers to pay membership dues for relevant professional memberships for their employees. That would seem to be a legitimate employee benefit -- even for public servants.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Joe Lance said...

It sounds like you have a reasonable perspective on this, and I look forward to reading your reports. I'm glad TN gets to host, and I wish I could be there.

8:27 AM  
Anonymous Bob K said...

It is true that employers often do pay dues for professional memberships for their employees. However, I have to object to this item:

the allocated expenditure will be largely offset by the tourism dollars brought in by attendees of the event

Were that the case, it would make sense for the city/state to pay for other conferences to come here. That's obviously a losing proposition for the taxpayers.

5:12 PM  
Blogger MCO said...

Bob, if the tourist dollars were the only consideration, I would agree. However, I intended for the partial offset to be considered only as one of several factors favoring the appropriateness of the expenditure. The state is essentially acting as the host for a conference that made a decision to come here. As a one time event, I think the expenditure is reasonable and that the appropriation of funds is legitimate.

11:00 PM  

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