Gov. Bill Lee Delivers 2022 State of the State Address

Tennessee: ‘America at Its Best’
Monday, January 31, 2022 | 03:22pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee delivered his fourth State of the State address and presented budget and legislative priorities to a joint session of the General Assembly.

Key highlights are noted below, and the full speech as prepared for delivery can be found on the Governor’s website. A budget overview can be found here.  

Due to Tennessee’s conservative fiscal management, the state has one of the strongest budgetary positions in history. The proposed $52.6 billion budget includes strategic investments in K-12 education, higher education, improving transportation infrastructure and more.

“Tennessee stands as a beacon to the rest of the country for how we can change lives when we control the size of government, prioritize efficiency, and make smart and responsible investments. I am proud to propose a budget and America at Its Best policies that reinforce freedom, innovation, exceptionalism and optimism,” said Gov. Lee.

Gov. Lee’s address included a bold vision for 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. Gov. Lee’s FY23 budget proposes more than $1 billion in new, recurring education spending for public schools across Tennessee.

Additional notable highlights from Gov. Lee’s FY22-23 agenda include:

K-12 Education

·         Committing to crafting an updated K-12 education funding formula

·         $750M recurring increase for new K-12 education funding formula

o   Since new formula will not commence until FY24, these funds will be utilized in FY23 for: CTE improvements in all high schools and middle schools($500M), moving all 14 public schools out of flood plains ($200M) and GIVE and SPARC grants ($50M)

·         Proposing a new law that will ensure parents know what materials are available to students in their libraries

·         Proposing new legislation to make computer science and coding available to every high school student in Tennessee.

·         $2.5M to expand the Future Workforce Initiative

·         Formalizing a partnership with Hillsdale College to expand their approach to civics education and K-12 education in Tennessee

·         $124.7M to provide a well-deserved increase into the teacher salary pool

·         $25.5M in recurring funding to continue successful summer learning camps

·         $16M recurring and $16M nonrecurring to the Charter Schools Facility Fund to increase the number of high-quality Charter Schools

Higher Education

·         $90M to fully-fund the outcomes-based formula, enabling a zero percent tuition increase for public universities

·         $200M for TCAT infrastructure investments to help double the skilled workforce by 2026

·         $72M to complete the Oak Ridge Innovation Institute, a partnership with the University of Tennessee to invest in data science and technology, advanced materials, and outcomes-based applications

·         $6M to establish the Institute of American Civics at the University of Tennessee

·         $50M to a Carnegie R1 research fund at the University of Memphis, matched by private donors, to sustain the University’s R1 designation

·         $250M in infrastructure improvements at Tennessee State University to mitigate life-safety issues and help improve academic and student campus buildings

·         $170M to invest in a statewide Enterprise Resource System for the University of Tennessee and the Locally Governed Institutions, permitting more streamlined access to information aimed at better serving students in 21st century educational settings

·         $75.2M to increase the 4-year HOPE Award to $5,100 per student, per year, and the 2-year HOPE Award to $3,200 per student, per year

·         Four percent salary pool increase for higher education employees to ensure they attract and retain the best employee base possible

Safe and Secure Tennessee

·         Adding 100 Highway Patrol Troopers, 20 Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Agents, and 25 Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Forensic Science Personnel

·         Directing the Department of Safety and Homeland Security to create a plan so every house of worship in Tennessee can receive high-quality safety training

·         $355.6M in a Multi-Agency Law Enforcement Training Academy

·         $28.4M to fully fund the Correctional Officer salary changes

·         $66M for the TN Law Enforcement Hiring, Training, and Recruitment program

·         $179M to complete full construction of Tennessee Advanced Communications Network coverage, ensuring full mobile connectivity across all Tennessee for emergency communications and law enforcement

·         $150 million to create the Violent Crime Intervention Grant Fund

Rural Tennessee

·         $82M to reimburse public hospitals for uncompensated care, primarily in rural communities

·         $26M for Rural Opportunity Grants, helping to get communities ready for corporate investment

·         $55M to increase access to services across each of the Medicaid Pathways to Independence programs

Healthy Tennessee

·         $25.5M to provide adult dental benefits for 610,000 Tennesseans eligible for TennCare

·         $11.8M toward a multiyear commitment to recruit and retain dental providers, as well as provide much-needed dental care for prosthodontic services

·         $18.6M to attract over 150 new primary care residents

·         $7M for substance abuse clinical treatment and addiction recovery programs

Supporting Families

·         Expanding TennCare’s Health Starts Initiative to put an even greater emphasis on maternal health and holistic care for mothers and children

·         Expanding funding for relative caregiver placements for children in foster care

·         Establishing a childcare support program for all foster families, regardless of their DHS eligibility

Infrastructure Modernization

·         $619M to accelerate projects listed in the IMPROVE Act and invest in transportation projects to ensure economic opportunity

·         $3.5M to support the Transportation Equity Fund

·         $4M to enhance litter cleanup on Tennessee highways

Growing Tennessee

·         $103M for the FastTrack program, ensuring the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development has the tools to recruit and retain top companies to call Tennessee home

·         Formalizing a long-term strategy to develop the Clinch River Nuclear Site

Beautiful Tennessee

·         $40M to invest in environmental cleanup, including National Priority List sites

·         $28M to eliminate the deferred maintenance backlog at State Parks

·         $25M for West TN River Basin projects

Asset Management

·         $2.541B for higher education and general government capital improvements over the next several years

·         $214.8M for capital maintenance, ensuring deferred maintenance is addressed within current capital assets

Good Government

·         Developing the State of Tennessee Excess Property Strategy (STEPS) to eliminate excess state real property and reduce the costs associated with owning unneeded real estate

·         Reducing employee headcount at departments by five percent without making layoffs