Gov. Lee and FSAG Actions Have Protected Tennessee Jobs, Avoided Major Tax Increase

Tennessee unemployment continues to decline, more jobs become available
Thursday, September 17, 2020 | 04:28pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. –Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group (FSAG) proactively invested Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars into the state’s unemployment trust fund, protecting employees and businesses across the state.

Based on newly-released projections from the University of Tennessee’s Boyd Center, the tax premiums paid by the state’s employers would have increased by at least 300% in 2021 had these resources not been invested early.

Additionally, Tennessee businesses would have had their unemployment taxes raised by $837 million. Employer premiums would have also remained elevated for several years, placing an enormous burden on businesses. Tennessee would have transitioned from enjoying the lowest taxable wage base and tax table as of January 2020 to the highest in 2021. 

“Preserving Tennessee’s thriving economy has been one of my top priorities throughout this pandemic,” said Gov. Bill Lee. “I thank the members of the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group for fiercely defending our Tennessee businesses and workers from the consequences of a significant tax hike.”

“From the beginning of the pandemic, Tennessee’s state government made decisions that were thoughtful, forward-thinking and ultimately pivotal,” said Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge). “The decision to immediately use federal Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars to bolster our unemployment trust fund protected workers, prevented possible tax increases and will allow employers to continue to hire as our economy recovers and grows. Tennessee’s commitment to fiscal responsibility held firm under fire. I am grateful to Governor Lee, Commissioner Eley and all members of the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group — representing both parties and both houses of the General Assembly — for their excellent work in protecting Tennessee’s businesses and workers.”

“Tennessee’s philosophies are just different than many other states; we want businesses to grow and to thrive. Our goal is to maintain a healthy economic environment that not only creates jobs, but also encourages businesses to prosper.  That’s why we are the second-best state in America to do business in,” said House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville). “The Financial Stimulus Accountability Group’s investment in our Unemployment Trust Fund is one of many ways we are continuing to support businesses during these difficult times by ensuring they aren’t penalized by burdensome tax increases. While other states are looking at raising taxes, in Tennessee, we are for lessening their tax burdens.”

Any increase in taxes, during an already difficult time for the state’s employers, could have led to increased job losses across the state. By not raising taxes, Gov. Lee and the FSAG are helping employers rebound from the economic impacts of COVID-19 while continuing to employ and hire Tennesseans.

The Department of Labor and Workforce Development announced today that Tennessee’s unemployment rate dropped to 8.5% in August, a staggering 7% lower than in April and 1.2% lower than in July.

Beginning October 4, work search requirements for individuals seeking unemployment funds from the state will resume. Additional information can be found from the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Job Procurement
Thousands of businesses across Tennessee are ready to help the state’s economy rebound by reemploying out of work individuals., Tennessee’s workforce development website, currently has over 200,000 open positions for all job skill levels.

The more than 80 American Job Centers across Tennessee are open for business and offering job-seekers free personalized assistance with job procurement. The Tennessee Talent Exchange tool can quickly match individuals with available jobs in the grocery, retail and logistics industries as well.

Registered apprenticeships are a beneficial tool for those looking to change careers, acquire a new skillset, or obtain on the job training. There have been a record number of apprenticeships launched this year in more than 40 Tennessee counties.

Small Business Relief
More than 40,000 small business owners across 60 different industries qualify for the Tennessee Business Relief Program. Eligible businesses have until September 25, 2020, to confirm their information with the Department of Revenue in order to receive a relief payment between $2,500 and $30,000 in no-cost funds from the state. Small businesses can use the Department’s digital tool to determine eligibility.

The Financial Stimulus Accountability Group includes Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, Speaker Cameron Sexton, Comptroller Justin Wilson, Sen. Ramesh Akbari, Sen. Bo Watson, Rep. Harold Love, Rep. Pat Marsh and Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration Commissioner Butch Eley.