“I continue to believe that if children are given the necessary tools to succeed, they will succeed beyond their wildest dreams!” ~ U.S. Senator David Vitter
This past Monday evening, Governor Haslam presented his “State of the State” address. The highlight of his speech was the proposal of the “Tennessee Promise”. This is a plan to waive tuition for students at community colleges and technology centers. He will do this by setting aside $300 million from the Tennessee Education Lottery to fund an endowment that would cover tuition and fees for 2-year institutions for all graduating high school seniors. We would be the only state in the U.S. that would be offering free 2 years of higher education after high school. What a great plan!!
He also had many more plans to help our students become more educated and ready for the changing jobs market in Tennessee. These include:
Plans to reduce or eliminate the need for remedial math before entering college; offering more dual enrollment to high school seniors; ways to predict the subjects and majors in which students will be most successful; plans to bring back to college students who have had some college in the past; plans to educate students to fill the jobs that are available in the local area; changes to the allotment of the Lottery Scholarship money; $63 million to increase teachers’ salaries; $48.6 million to fully fund the BEP formula.
Our state is really working on making education a top priority in all areas. This will pay great dividends in a short while.
Other notable items in the Governor’s proposed budget include: $1.7 million to fund a new statewide residential drug court in Middle Tennessee; $6.4 million to fund new child protective services and case manager positions as well as other critical children’s services including foster care and adoption assistance; $7 million increase for the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to care for some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens; a one-percent pay raise for state employees; $40.3 million to the Rainy Day Fund bringing it to $496 million on June 30, 2015; $61 million in Fast Track Infrastructure and Job Training assistance; $6 million for a statewide tourism fund to support the work of the tourism commission.
I was very impressed with the Governor’s speech and the passion that he shows to try to make Tennessee the very best state in the nation. We are definitely moving in the right direction.
There are a few interesting bills being considered right now. A particular bill that interests me is a proposed bill to require cursive handwriting in Tennessee schools. I don’t know if we need a law on this, but I do believe that everyone should be taught this important subject. Everyone needs to know how to sign their name on checks, contracts and other important documents.
There are also several bills making their way through the Plaza that address how long a school district can keep school busses. The bill I hear that is pulling out ahead of the others is a bill to let School Districts determine for themselves what they think is best as long as their buses are thoroughly inspected annually. Currently, school systems must get rid of busses after 17 years of service or 200,000 miles.
This week has been very busy with committee assignments, meetings in my office, and receptions around the General Assembly. I got to visit with Michael Watson with Duck River Electric and his board to hear about their legislative concerns. Also, Britt Dye from Fayetteville Public Utilities and his board came up for a nice reception at the Doubletree Hotel.
The Tennessee school superintendents had a 2-day conference in Nashville this week and I got to spend some time with Don Embry of the Bedford County System. Dr. Wanda Shelton was also here, along with most superintendents from across the state. They held a fine reception for all the Legislators at the Hermitage Hotel where I got to speak to many of our educators from across the state.
On Wednesday evening, the Tennessee Press Association had a big party for the General Assembly at the DoubleTree Hotel, and I had the pleasure of talking to Hugh Jones, Sadie Fowler, and Sissy Smith from the Shelbyville Times-Gazette. They even had some of the cast from the TV show “Nashville” in attendance. After that I went to the War Memorial Building to meet the Tennessee Bankers Association and had dinner with Scott Cocanougher, Tom Clifford and a large group of bankers from First Community Bank of Shelbyville, and they had my brother, Bill, join us from First Commerce Bank in Lewisburg. We all had a great time, and I learned of the many federal government regulations that are affecting the banking business.
I start my first bill out next week through the committee system and it is shaping up to be a super busy week. On Monday evening at our House Session, I will have the pleasure to introduce and present a proclamation to Coach Phillip Fulmer on being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Should be a great night!!
Please feel free to stop by my office at War Memorial Building G 19A or give me a call if you have any questions or concerns. You can reach me at (615) 741-6824 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am honored to represent the people of the 62nd district!