Senator Rusty Crowe looks back at Governor Bill Lee’s 2022 State of the State address

Published 4:53 pm Wednesday, February 2, 2022

BY NIC MILLER
STAR STAFF
nic.miller@elizabethton.com

On Monday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee addressed the state with his goals for the year during his State of the State address in Nashville.

After the address, many came away with a better understanding of a 2022 forecast, one of those people being Sen. Rusty Crowe (R-District 3).

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“I was very pleased to see that the governor’s proposed budget was bold, and balanced with not one penny of new taxes. The state of our state is strong, and Tennessee is truly America at its best,” Crowe said. “As I have said many times, Tennessee tops nationally in many categories because we have focused on lower taxes, less government, personal responsibility, faith, family, freedom and good old common sense; and that is what this budget as proposed seems to reflect.”

The proposed $52.6 billion budget includes strategic investments in K-12 education, higher education, improving transportation infrastructure, health care and public safety.

“Gov. Lee’s address included 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,” Crowe said. “He proposes more than $1 billion in new, recurring education spending for public schools and our teachers across Tennessee.”

Locally, Crowe continues to work with state leaders including Lee to fund the proposed Workforce Development Complex.

“The governor is really interested in expanding our TCAT programs and Mayor (Patty) Woodby, Rep. (Scotty) Campbell, Rep. (Johnny) Holsclaw and I are hoping we receive funding either in this budget or in the budget amendment that comes later in the year. This would help renovate our existing workforce development complex to expand our career technical education for students and our area adults,” Crowe said. “This would be a part of our ‘middle college’ plan to allow high school students to receive their TCAT degree at the same time they receive their high school degree.”

With a focus on education across the state, Lee also proposed new legislation that will help advance the interests of students in all lower education facilities.

“He is proposing a new law that will ensure that parents know what materials are available to students in their libraries, as well as proposing new legislation to make computer science and coding available to every high school student in Tennessee,” Crowe said. “Gov. Lee proposed a budget of $2.5 million to expand the Future Workforce Initiative and he is formalizing a partnership with Hillsdale College to expand their approach to civics education and K-12 education in Tennessee.

“It was great news that the governor is proposing $124.7 million to provide a well-deserved increase into the teacher salary pool and $25.5 million in recurring funding to continue successful summer learning camps,” Crowe continued.

And while education was a huge part in the governor’s address, many other subjects were addressed.

Crowe said that from an infrastructure perspective, Lee is proposing $619 million to accelerate projects listed in the IMPROVE Act and invest in transportation projects to ensure economic opportunity. Along with that, the governor is proposing $3.5 million to support the Transportation Equity Fund and $4 million to enhance litter cleanup in Tennessee.

“The governor talked about supporting families by Expanding TennCare’s Health Starts Initiative to put an even greater emphasis on maternal health and holistic care for mothers and children. Along with that, Gov. Lee brought up expanding funding for relative caregiver placements for children in foster care and establishing a childcare support program for all foster families, regardless of their DHS eligibility,” Crowe said.

Crowe said the governor also talked about heavily funding our law enforcement and homeland security to make our communities as safe as possible.

“As chair of our state’s senate health and welfare committee, I was very pleased to see the governor propose $82 million to reimburse public hospitals for uncompensated care, primarily in rural communities and $25.5 million to provide adult dental benefits for 610,000 Tennesseans eligible for TennCare,” Crowe said.

“The governor proposed $11.8 million toward a multiyear commitment to recruit and retain dental providers, as well as providing much-needed dental care for prosthodontic services, $18.6 million to attract over 150 new primary care residents, and $7 million for substance abuse clinical treatment and addiction recovery programs,” Crowe concluded.