Nashville, TN – This week in Nashville, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee delivered his second State of the State Address.
The governor’s comments focused on recent Republican accomplishments and shared legislative and budget priorities for the 2020 legislative session.
Key focus areas this year include public education, economic and workforce development, public safety, and an emphasis on our rural Tennessee communities.
Education highlights include:
- $600 million new dollars for public education.
- $117 million for teacher salaries — a four percent raise.
- Recommendations to move minimum teacher salaries from $36,000 to $40,000 over the next two years.
- Creating a K-12 Mental Health Trust Fund through a one-time $250 million investment to support mental health services for students through an evidence-based, holistic approach.
- Enhancing the school-based behavioral health liaison program from 36 counties to include every Tennessee County.
- New standards for public elementary literacy training and instruction, as well as improved literacy supports and interventions for K-2 students.
- The creation of the Governor’s Teaching Fellowship to support the academic journeys of 1,000 future teachers each year.
- A $4 million investment in professional development and career advancement for educators and academic leaders.
- Initiating the Tennessee Teacher & Leader Institute to gather ideas in efforts to build the best educator preparation program in the entire nation.
- An appropriation of $60,061,500 to fund a Health Professions Building on the Austin Peay State University Campus.
- Supporting district-led “Grow Your Own” programs with new curriculum and grants;
Additional highlights include:
- Reinvesting more than $100 million in cities and counties.
- Focusing on job creation in distressed and at-risk counties through incentive packages in efforts to attract new businesses to these communities.
- $25 million to further increase broadband accessibility.
- Launching ApprenticeshipTN, a new effort that will realign our approach to getting individuals back into the workforce
- A $20 million investment in the Rural Opportunity Fund to support community development and address critical infrastructure needs.
- Increasing the criminal penalties associated with theft of a firearm and those associated with reckless endangerment of law enforcement and first responders.
- Revising the occupational licensing process to encourage employment for those who desire to re-enter society and become productive citizens.
- Expanding recovery courts and community supervision programs.
- Investing $6.5 million additional recurring funds in the Health Care Safety Network.
- Creating a Children’s Behavioral Health Safety Network through a $7.5 million investment.
- Financing year three of the Rural Hospital Transformation Program.
The full text of the Governor’s address along with video from the speech can be found by clicking here.
Tennessee Tops Nation In Fiscal Management And Industry Growth
On Monday night, Governor Lee touted Tennessee’s fiscal management and economic development success in his State of the State / Budget Address. In 2019, Tennessee was named the “number one best fiscally managed state” in the country for the first time. The state also led the nation in best business climate, advanced industry job growth, and small business growth.
The state has garnered 108 project commitments to create 16,500 jobs and $3.6 billion of capital investment in Tennessee. More than half of these projects have been announced in rural counties.
Measure Authorizing Deadly Force For Sexual Assault Victims Moves Forward
Legislation authorizing the use of deadly force for sexual assault victims continues to gain momentum in the Tennessee General Assembly.
House Bill 1575 — also known as the 2020 Defense Doctrine — passed out of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee this week. The measure has 53 co-sponsors, and it allows victims that have reasonable belief they are imminent danger of sexual abuse, sexual assault or rape to utilize deadly force as a method of self-defense to avoid serious bodily injury and escape dangerous threats to their personal safety.
Recent data from the Tennessee Department of Health reveals that sexual violence is a major public health crisis resulting in long-term societal and economic costs. Approximately 6,177 people were assaulted in Tennessee in 2017, according to the department.
House Bill 1575 is expected to be heard by members of the House Judiciary Committee on February 12th, 2020. For information, click here.
Key Tax Cut Legislation Begins Movement In House
As part of our continued commitment that has resulted in more than $645 million in tax cuts under Republican leadership over the last nine years, House Republicans introduced legislation this week that begins the process of lowering the corporate tax on businesses from 6.5 percent to 6 percent. House Bill 2301 also includes built-in safety mechanisms based upon state revenue collections in the event of an economic downturn.
Our current corporate tax assessment is one of the highest in the entire southeastern region. It is levied on net income or earnings of a registered business or corporation for that specific tax year. By reducing this tax, we’ll provide additional revenue so these businesses may reinvest by expanding operations and creating new jobs.
The bill will now be assigned to the appropriate standing committee where it will be debated and discussed.
Rep. Curtis Johnson
636 Cordell Hull Building
425 5th Avenue, North
Nashville, TN 37243
For more information about the Tennessee General Assembly, check our website at: www.capitol.tn.gov