Here at Pith, we've warned against inflating the role of the Koch Brothers-funded organization Americans for Prosperity in the debate about The Amp so far. While they loom large in Democratic fever dreams, to overstate their significance in the legislative outcome was to misunderstand the broader situation. It also does their work for them.
Which brings us to a new AFP radio spot that's been playing at drive time on 102.5 The Game. The ad, which is aimed at stopping Common Core, references the group's legislative achievements this year. Here's the relevant excerpt (emphasis ours):
...AFP passed the Stop Obamacare Act, delayed implementation of Common Core, and stopped a bus lane boondoggle in Nashville that would have cost taxpayers over $175 million. But we still have work to do, like ensuring that Tennessee ends the Hall Income Tax and stops the leftist education agenda that is Common Core...
That bolded line? That's a lie.
Few people have offered harsher analysis when it comes to this year's legislative fight over The Amp and what it meant for Mayor Karl Dean and his project that we have.
After the legislature approved legislation that requires separate approval from the General Assembly even if the project does not receive state funds, we declared it a loss for the mayor and the project.
But the legislation, now law, does not "stop" The Amp. It doesn't even change the timeline of the project. It essentially gives the General Assembly veto power over the project, even if it doesn't use state funds. If the project is included in the state budget, the legislature can sign off on it, or not, by approving the budget. If the project is not slated to receive state funds, but still wants to use dedicated lanes on the state highway as is the plan, then it will need legislative approval through passage of a joint resolution.
Importantly, as the mayor and other project supporters endlessly repeated during the session, Metro was not asking the state to contribute any money to the project this year. That frequently came off as a clumsy attempt to lessen the PR damage, but it was also true.
To summarize: The state legislature did not stop The Amp. Perhaps it will in the future, but it has not done so yet. AFP has absolutely not "stopped a bus lane boondoggle in Nashville." When they say they did, they are lying.