Tenn. budget includes new tax dollars to fight opioid addiction

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, July 11, 2018

We have wrapped up another successful year in the Tennessee General Assembly, and we tackled the issues that are important to Tennesseans. Serving as Speaker of the House of Representatives these last eight years has been the greatest honor of my professional life, and we have accomplished some great things for all of Tennessee. This year, we made significant progress on several issues, and I wanted to give you an update with some highlights.
Once again, we passed a fiscally responsible, balanced budget. This budget builds on previous legislative priorities by making thoughtful investments in state government. Highlights in the budget include new state dollars to fund treatment and services in the fight against opioid addiction, increased funding for K-12 education, and additional savings for the state’s Rainy Day Fund.
Two comprehensive pieces of legislation passed targeting the opioid crisis. One measure limits the duration and dosage of opioid prescriptions for new patients with some exceptions, while the second creates incentives to complete intensive substance abuse programs while incarcerated. It also addresses fentanyl, by adding it to controlled substance schedules. Together, I believe these two bills will make a real impact on the opioid epidemic.
In the final days of session in an unprecedented move, members of the House joined together in a bipartisan effort to address problems with the state’s TN Ready testing system in K-12 schools. As a result, legislation was passed that safeguards teachers, schools, and students from being penalized for the latest round of issues involving the test. I was proud to join my colleagues in standing up for our state’s teachers and schools.
Other signature measures include implementing a security plan for every school in the state, taking a good first step to reform our juvenile justice system, and expanding broadband across the state. These laws will make our schools and communities safer, and help our economy grow.
Additionally, Tennessee currently ranks as one of the lowest taxed states in the country, enjoys the lowest debt per capita in the nation, and is experiencing an unemployment rate that is at record lows — 3.4%, below the national average of 4.2%.
While other states are struggling with crushing debt or unfunded pension programs, in Tennessee we continue our record of keeping our fiscal house in order. In the Tennessee General Assembly, we take that responsibility seriously. As a result, our state continues to be a great place to live, work, raise a family, and own and operate a business.

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