“Tennessee’s success didn’t just happen, we didn’t just get lucky. We have made tough decisions and focused on solving problems. That’s how real progress gets made.” ~ Gov. Bill Haslam, 2018 State of the State Address
The highlight of this past week was the Governor’s State of the State address Monday night to the entire legislature. This was the Governor’s last address, and it was another good one! I took notes and wanted to give you some of the highlights.
- Lowest unemployment rate in our history
- 400,000 net new private sector jobs created
- Fastest improving students in the nation
- With the proposed 2018 budget, nearly $1.5 billion invested in K-12 education with $500 million going to teacher salaries
- More than $500 million in tax cuts
- A cut in yearly spending by more than ½ billion dollars
- Tripling the state’s Rainy Day Fund
The Governor earlier proposed “Drive to 55” in his first term. This is our plan to have 55 percent of our citizens with a college degree or certificate by 2025. He announced Monday that if we stay on our present course, we should reach our goal two years early! Great news!
The Governor’s 2018-2019 budget was presented Monday night also. I learned that he has approved a $500,000 grant to the Camp Blount park project for Fayetteville. When that gets off the ground, it will draw many tourists to Lincoln County and many great tax dollars.
I went to the award ceremony for the Community Development Block Grants from the Department of Economic Development on Tuesday and met the Mayor of Bell Buckle who received an award of $442,000 for the sewer project in Bell Buckle. Shelbyville Mayor Wallace Cartwright and David Crowell of Shelbyville Power and Water were also there. They accepted a grant for $450,000 for sewer rehabilitation. These grants will certainly help our local infrastructure for years to come.
I passed my first bill out of the Business and Utilities subcommittee this week and will be working on all my others quickly. I have 15 bills this year and am anxiously ready to get them moving and over with.
We had a great reception Tuesday evening with the Tennessee Electric Co-op Association. Michael Watson and his board members were around most of the day. Also in attendance were Britt Dye and the Fayetteville Public Utilities Board. I really enjoy working with all these people and learning about the new and exciting things they are doing.
I had a very productive meeting with the TN Board of Regents Chancellor, Flora Tydings, on Wednesday. Also in the meeting were Mike Krause from Higher Education, Laura Monks with our Shelbyville TCAT, and Walt Wood with the Development District. We are working on trying to get funding for our LEAP grant and the local TCAT school.
I was honored this week to receive the Award for Conservative Achievement from the American Conservative Union Foundation. According to the ACUF, the award is given to elected officials who vote most consistently with the ideals laid out in the Constitution. These ideals include limited and transparent government, individual rights, personal responsibility, and lasting cultural values. I was very proud to be given this award and have it on display in my office.
The Tennessee Secretary of State, Tre Hargett, sent me a brochure highlighting several of the things they do in their department. I was pleased to see the new online voter registration system has already helped over 7,000 Tennesseans register to vote and additional 10,000 update their addresses since it was launched in September. The very popular Tennessee Blue Book is celebrating its 88th anniversary and 27,244,863 books and materials were borrowed from Tennessee public libraries last year. They have also digitally converted over 8.6 million documents from microfilm. I am grateful for all the hard work from Secretary Hargett and his team.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to stop by my office in the Cordell Hull Building, Suite 540 or give me a call. You can reach me at (615) 741-6824 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.