State paid for spouses' activities, flowers at Regents meetings

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The past four quarterly meetings of the Tennessee Board of Regents have cost the state more than $187,000, an Associated Press review of spending records has found.

The money paid for food and catering; flowers and decorations; welcome packages for the board members; hotel rooms and travel expenses; music for events; a sound system; and activities for the board members' spouses.

It's a small part of the total budget for the Board of Regents, which oversees two-year schools and public universities outside the University of Tennessee system.

But some new board members believe the meetings cost too much money and should be streamlined. Each meeting lasts a day-and-a-half, and the four most recent were at Jackson State Community College in Jackson, Southwest Tennessee Community College in Memphis , Columbia State Community College and Austin Peay State University in Clarksville.

An average of about 15 board members and 19 staffers attended each meeting. The state paid a total of $187,296 for the last four meetings, including travel and hotel costs of $54,157.

The total cost for the meetings includes another $45,910, which came from private sources.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)