NASHVILLE, Tenn. — After hinting for weeks about his top priorities for Tennessee, Gov. Bill Lee will finally unveil his first ever budget proposal and legislative agenda to state lawmakers on Monday.
Lee’s office released the following excerpts of his prepared statements statements, which appear to focus on several key issues including the state budget, education, public safety and mental health:
State of the State
“Now, I think we can all agree that while important things happen in the halls of government it is actually what happens outside these walls that makes Tennessee truly great.”
“To our elected leaders in this room and the many Tennesseans watching from their homes, I am proud to report after seeing with my own eyes: the state of our state is hopeful, prosperous, and strong.”
“As a conservative businessman, I know a good budget needs to pay for what is needed, take on zero long-term debt, and, perhaps most importantly, save for a rainy day.”
“I believe highly accountable public charter schools are a great model for expanding choice without sacrificing quality, and I’ve seen firsthand how they can dramatically impact the life and trajectory of a student. In my budget, we are doubling the amount of public charter school facility funding and I will support legislation this year that makes it easier to open good charter schools and easier to close bad ones.”
“Of those who are incarcerated, 95% are not serving a life sentence and will eventually come out and we need to be sure they are prepared for that. Why? Because every successful reentry means one less crime, and one less victim.”
“My commitment to having fewer crime victims in this state is reflected in a proposed expansion of education and re-entry counselling opportunities in our prisons. Educational attainment for incarcerated people can reduce their risk of recidivism by up to 43%.”
“Too often, the conversation around health care focuses exclusively on physical health. Physical well-being is important, but a national conversation around mental and behavioral health is long overdue. Nearly 300,000 Tennesseans are facing serious mental health challenges, and far too many are slipping through the cracks.”
Some items have already been announced, including a proposed $40 million initiative to fund more school resource officers and a proposal to create a statewide vocational and technical training program.
A possible voucher-like bill has been speculated, but no details have been revealed. However, Senate leaders told reporters last week they expected Lee to discuss an education saving account proposal, which voucher proponents have often supported.