Gov. Bill Lee unveils $53 billion budget and Legislative priorities in State of the State Address
Published 10:13 am Tuesday, February 6, 2024
FROM STAFF REPORTS
NASHVILLE – Governor Bill Lee delivered his sixth State of the State address on Monday, Feb. 5, outlining his budget and legislative priorities for Tennessee’s upcoming fiscal year 2024-25. Addressing a joint session of the General Assembly and the citizens of Tennessee, Governor Lee highlighted the state’s strengths and emphasized the importance of fortifying Tennessee’s legacy of opportunity, security, and freedom.
In his address, Governor Lee underscored Tennessee’s rich culture, diverse population, and deep-rooted traditions, calling it a remarkable place. He expressed his commitment to building on the state’s successes while acknowledging the collective effort it took to reach this point.
The cornerstone of Governor Lee’s proposed budget, totaling $53 billion, is responsible fiscal stewardship. He announced a $20 million investment in Tennessee’s Rainy Day Fund, elevating the state’s reserves to over $2 billion, the largest in its history. Additionally, the budget allocates $410 million in recurring funding and $1.2 billion in non-recurring funding to simplify the franchise tax, aiming to streamline financial processes in the state.
In the realm of education, Governor Lee’s agenda prioritizes investments to enhance learning opportunities for Tennessee’s students. Notable initiatives include allocating over $261 million to strengthen education through the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement (TISA) formula growth, providing $30 million for summer learning programs, and dedicating $3.2 million to AP Access for All, offering Advanced Placement courses to students across rural and urban Tennessee. The budget also includes funds to bolster students’ reading and phonics skills and support charter school facility improvements.
Expanding choices for Tennessee parents, Governor Lee proposed $141.5 million to establish Education Freedom Scholarships, empowering parents to select the most suitable school for their child’s education.
In the realm of healthcare and family services, the proposed budget earmarks $208 million over five years from TennCare shared savings to strengthen rural health and $100 million over five years to enhance mental healthcare services. Additionally, significant investments, totaling $26.7 million, are planned to improve services for Tennesseans with disabilities.
Ensuring public safety remains a top priority, with provisions for an additional 60 State Troopers, expanded school-based behavioral health liaison programs, and funding for Houses of Worship Security Grants.
Looking towards a brighter future, Governor Lee’s budget includes substantial allocations for environmental preservation and tourism development. Investments include creating new state parks, expanding blueway trail access, improving water quality, and establishing the Farmland Conservation Fund.
In conclusion, Governor Lee’s State of the State address and proposed budget underscore Tennessee’s commitment to fostering economic prosperity, enhancing education, supporting families, ensuring public safety, and preserving the state’s natural resources for future generations. His priorities aim to address critical needs and position Tennessee for continued growth and success.