Don’t Say Fiscal Note

Stacey Campfield
Stacey Campfield

Each piece of legislation that is proposed in the Tennessee House and Senate is reviewed for its financial impact on the state budget. This result of this review is recorded as a document called a fiscal note. In lean economic times, many legislators are reticent to vote in favor of a bill with a significant fiscal note because then they would have to justify the spending and may have to provide a method to fund the legislation.

Currently, Stacey Campfield’s perpetual bill that would make it so “no public elementary or middle school shall provide any instruction or material that discusses sexual orientation other than heterosexuality,” has a fiscal note of “Not Significant”. Popularly known as the “Don’t Say Gay Bill”, the Financial Review Committee believes that the state really won’t have to spend any money to implement this SB0049. In their own words, “No fiscal impact on state or local government. Local education agencies teach human sexuality based on the state Department of Education’s Healthful Living Curriculum.

And this really gets to the heart of the problem…

You see, while the bill uses the word “instruction”, a synonym for “teaching”, in their communications, Senator Campfield and representative Dunn both cleverly skip the phrase “provide material” and instead only focus on the “teaching” part.

Now imagine providing materials. The bill doesn’t mention forbidding providing materials to students. It mentions providing materials – period. Think of all the photographs, slide shows, films, card catalogs, microfiche, signage, forms, documents, monthly magazines, daily and weekly newspapers, all of the existing books in the library, all of the incoming new books in the library, and every single web page that can be accessed on the internet from the school by students, administration, or faculty would have to be reviewed and removed or censored. Every single Local Education Agency (LEA) would have to provide a full-time staff to manage every piece of information to comply with this bill. That’s just for maintenance. To initially prepare a school for this will require a team.

Cost “Not Significant” my ass! This will cost the state an untold fortune.

I’m still curious to see how Nashville and Knoxville’s previous agreement with the ACLU about filtering gay support websites will factor into this. I mean, they are going to have to go back on their word now.

Also, as I mentioned in a previous article, this will require all elementary and middle schools in Tennessee to remove the Holy Bible from everywhere in the school system, not that I am necessarily opposed to such a measure. I kind of think it is funny and well deserved. What’s more, even the legislative record for SB0049 itself will be banned.