Tennessee: ‘America at Its Best’
NASHVILLE (January 31) – Recently, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee delivered his fourth State of the State address and presented budget and legislative priorities to a joint session of the General Assembly.
Key highlights are noted below, and the full speech as prepared for delivery can be found on the Governor’s website. A budget overview can be found online also.
Due to Tennessee’s conservative fiscal management, the state has one of the strongest budgetary positions in history. The proposed $52.6 billion budget includes strategic investments in K-12 education, higher education, improving transportation infrastructure and more.
“Tennessee stands as a beacon to the rest of the country for how we can change lives when we control the size of government, prioritize efficiency, and make smart and responsible investments. I am proud to propose a budget and America at Its Best policies that reinforce freedom, innovation, exceptionalism and optimism,” said Gov. Lee.
Gov. Lee’s address included a bold vision for updating K-12 education funding. This new approach will set aside dollars for each student, based on their individual needs, paying particular attention to students with disabilities, rural students, low income-students, and students with other priority needs. Gov. Lee’s FY23 budget proposes more than $1 billion in new, recurring education spending for public schools across Tennessee.
Additional notable highlights from Gov. Lee’s FY22-23 agenda include:
Committing to crafting an updated K-12 education funding formula
$750M recurring increase for new K-12 education funding formula
Since new formula will not commence until FY24, these funds will be utilized in FY23 for: CTE improvements in all high schools and middle schools($500M), moving all 14 public schools out of flood plains ($200M) and GIVE and SPARC grants ($50M)
Proposing a new law that will ensure parents know what materials are available to students in their libraries
Proposing new legislation to make computer science and coding available to every high school student in Tennessee.
$2.5M to expand the Future Workforce Initiative
Formalizing a partnership with Hillsdale College to expand their approach to civics education and K-12 education in Tennessee
$124.7M to provide a well-deserved increase into the teacher salary pool
$25.5M in recurring funding to continue successful summer learning camps
$16M recurring and $16M nonrecurring to the Charter Schools Facility Fund to increase the number of high-quality Charter Schools
$90M to fully-fund the outcomes-based formula, enabling a zero percent tuition increase for public universities
$200M for TCAT infrastructure investments to help double the skilled workforce by 2026
$72M to complete the Oak Ridge Innovation Institute, a partnership with the University of Tennessee to invest in data science and technology, advanced materials, and outcomes-based applications
$6M to establish the Institute of American Civics at the University of Tennessee
$50M to a Carnegie R1 research fund at the University of Memphis, matched by private donors, to sustain the University’s R1 designation
$250M in infrastructure improvements at Tennessee State University to mitigate life-safety issues and help improve academic and student campus buildings
$170M to invest in a statewide Enterprise Resource System for the University of Tennessee and the Locally Governed Institutions, permitting more streamlined access to information aimed at better serving students in 21st century educational settings
$75.2M to increase the 4-year HOPE Award to $5,100 per student, per year, and the 2-year HOPE Award to $3,200 per student, per year
Four percent salary pool increase for higher education employees to ensure they attract and retain the best employee base possible
Safe and Secure Tennessee
Adding 100 Highway Patrol Troopers, 20 Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Agents, and 25 Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Forensic Science Personnel
Directing the Department of Safety and Homeland Security to create a plan so every house of worship in Tennessee can receive high-quality safety training
$355.6M in a Multi-Agency Law Enforcement Training Academy
$28.4M to fully fund the Correctional Officer salary changes
$66M for the TN Law Enforcement Hiring, Training, and Recruitment program
$179M to complete full construction of Tennessee Advanced Communications Network coverage, ensuring full mobile connectivity across all Tennessee for emergency communications and law enforcement
$150 million to create the Violent Crime Intervention Grant Fund
$82M to reimburse public hospitals for uncompensated care, primarily in rural communities
$26M for Rural Opportunity Grants, helping to get communities ready for corporate investment
$55M to increase access to services across each of the Medicaid Pathways to Independence programs
$25.5M to provide adult dental benefits for 610,000 Tennesseans eligible for TennCare
$11.8M toward a multiyear commitment to recruit and retain dental providers, as well as provide much-needed dental care for prosthodontic services
$18.6M to attract over 150 new primary care residents
$7M for substance abuse clinical treatment and addiction recovery programs
Expanding TennCare’s Health Starts Initiative to put an even greater emphasis on maternal health and holistic care for mothers and children
Expanding funding for relative caregiver placements for children in foster care
Establishing a childcare support program for all foster families, regardless of their DHS eligibility
$619M to accelerate projects listed in the IMPROVE Act and invest in transportation projects to ensure economic opportunity
$3.5M to support the Transportation Equity Fund
$4M to enhance litter cleanup on Tennessee highways
$103M for the FastTrack program, ensuring the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development has the tools to recruit and retain top companies to call Tennessee home
Formalizing a long-term strategy to develop the Clinch River Nuclear Site
$40M to invest in environmental cleanup, including National Priority List sites
$28M to eliminate the deferred maintenance backlog at State Parks
$25M for West TN River Basin projects
$2.541B for higher education and general government capital improvements over the next several years
$214.8M for capital maintenance, ensuring deferred maintenance is addressed within current capital assets
Developing the State of Tennessee Excess Property Strategy (STEPS) to eliminate excess state real property and reduce the costs associated with owning unneeded real estate
Reducing employee headcount at departments by five percent without making layoffs.