On Dec. 4, 2013, the National Conference of State Legislatures gave Senator Alexander and three other senators its “Restoring the Balance” Award for defending the 10th Amendment, the first time in 10 years the organization gave this award for protecting states’ rights to U.S. senators.
Doing what a former governor would be expected to do, Alexander reminds senators and congressmen that a flight from their hometown to Washington doesn’t make them smarter than everybody else and that the Constitution is designed to protect the sovereignty of states. Alexander believes the best thing Washington, D.C., can do for Tennessee is to stop imposing unfunded federal mandates that soak up state tax dollars and take away state legislatures’ and governors’ constitutional prerogative to make decisions on behalf of the people who elected them.
Some of Senator Alexander’s most recent work in the Senate to protect states’ rights and get Washington out of the way includes:
Fighting Against Obamacare: Senator Alexander has helped lead the fight against the new health care law since it was proposed in 2009. Calling it “an historic mistake,” he has repeatedly said that every senator who voted for Obamacare ought to be sentenced to go home and serve as governor and try to implement this unfunded mandate.
Defending our local public schools from a “National School Board”: Over the last decade, the U.S. Department of Education has become so congested with federal mandates that it has become, in effect, a national school board. As governor of Tennessee, U.S. Secretary of Education under George H.W. Bush, and now as senator, Alexander has supported elementary and secondary education policies that restore local control of education decision-making, getting Washington out of the way of decisions that should be made closer to home. The best way to help 50 million children in 100,000 public schools learn what they need to know and be able to do is to return that responsibility squarely where it belongs—with parents, teachers, communities, and states. Alexander has said repeatedly that the “common core” standards that started as a voluntary project among various states should remain voluntary and should not be mandated or incentivized by the federal government, nor should compliance with common core standards be tied to the federal government’s granting of state waivers from the No Child Left Behind law.
The “Scholarships for Kids” Act: On Jan. 28, 2014, Senator Alexander introduced legislation that would allow states to create $2,100 scholarships out of existing federal education dollars to follow 11 million low-income children to the elementary and secondary schools they attend, letting states govern how students are assigned to schools. In the United States, allowing federal dollars to follow students to the colleges of their choice has helped to produce the finest higher education system in the world, and Alexander believes that the federal government should not stand in the way of states that want to apply the same principle to try to create the best schools in the world for our children.
The Marketplace Fairness Act: Senator Alexander is the lead cosponsor of the Marketplace Fairness Act, which supports states’ rights by letting Tennessee and other states decide whether they want to collect taxes that are already owed and how to treat businesses fairly in the marketplace without playing “Mother, May I?” with the federal government to do so. States have the right to make that decision for themselves.
Senator Alexander is also an original cosponsor of the “REFUND Act,” introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.), that would allow states to return unwanted federal funds to the U.S. Treasury for the express purpose of paying down the national debt.