2022 Year in Photos: Tennessee Leads as “America at Its Best”

Thursday, December 29, 2022 | 05:44am

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee released 2022 “America at Its Best” highlights and accomplishments that have contributed to greater opportunity, security and freedom for all Tennesseans. 

“Tennessee is leading the nation as the best state to work, live and raise a family,” said Lee. “As we continue to make strategic investments that strengthen our economy, support families and provide opportunity for Tennesseans, I am confident that our state’s best days are ahead.”

Tennesseans are invited to view and share photo highlights from the year here.

Lee’s 2022 accomplishments and budget and legislative highlights include:  

Thriving Economy 

Tennessee is the best state to do business, with the lowest tax burden of all 50 states and the fastest growing economy in the nation. This year, companies invested nearly $9 billion in the state and committed more than 16,000 new jobs for Tennesseans. In 2022, Tennessee reached the lowest unemployment rate in state history at 3.2%.

Skilled Workforce

As Tennessee experiences tremendous growth, our state is keeping up the pace with strategic investments in career and technical education to prepare Tennesseans for the workforce. In 2022, Lee dedicated $500 million to middle and high school vocational education programs and $200 million to Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCATs) to double the skilled workforce by 2026. 

Quality Education

This year, Lee prioritized K-12 public education with an historic $1 billion investment and a new, student-based funding formula through the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement Act. Lee also provided greater opportunity for students in Nashville and Memphis with Tennessee’s Education Savings Account (ESA) program, which began enrollment in 2022 to give parents the ability to pick the best school for their child. More than 1,100 Tennessee families have applied and 550 students are already enrolled in the school of their choice.

Opportunity for Rural Tennessee

Tennessee’s rural counties have seen tremendous success over the past year, with nearly $2.75 billion in capital investment, 6,000 job commitments and more than $619 million toward road infrastructure in Tennessee’s fastest growing counties to prepare for continued growth. This fall, Lee held the fourth annual Rural Opportunity Summit and met with state and local leaders to discuss the continued prosperity of rural Tennessee. 

Law Enforcement Support

This year, Lee has made significant investments to support law enforcement and keep every Tennessee community safe, including a $100 million Violent Crime Intervention Fund (VCIF), 100 additional Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) troopers on Tennessee roads and a renewed nationwide THP recruitment pitch to bring qualified law enforcement to the state. Nearly 300 local law enforcement agencies have submitted an intent to apply for VCIF grants.

Enhanced School Safety

In June 2022, Lee issued Executive Order 97 to enhance school safety across Tennessee and promote engagement with parents, schools and law enforcement. The administration carried out a series of actions to further strengthen school security for students and teachers, including launch of the SafeTN App and School Safety Toolkit for Tennessee Families.

Strong Families

Lee has worked to strengthen support for Tennessee families, mothers and children. The latest state budget included more than $283,100 to place ultrasounds in crisis pregnancy centers across the state. Additionally, Lee continues to support new and expecting mothers on TennCare by extending coverage from 60 days to 12 months postpartum and expanding TennCare’s Health Starts Initiative to support maternal health and holistic care for mothers and children. The Lee administration continued efforts to strengthen foster care and adoption through summer programming and other initiatives led by Tennessee Fosters Hope.

National Security

Lee has taken steps to ensure national security over the past year, calling on the Biden administration to secure the nation’s border and leading a letter with 20 fellow Republican governors urging the administration to lift restrictive mandates on our nation’s armed forces as a matter of national and state preparedness. 

Tennessee Serves

First Lady Maria Lee’s initiative, Tennessee Serves, has seen the tremendous service and generosity of Tennesseans in the past year. Highlights include donating coats to every elementary school in Scott and Morgan counties, more than 1,200 hours served by Tennessee children during the Tennessee Kids Serve Summer Challenge, and seeing record food and toiletry donations throughout the 12 Days of Giving

Tennessee 225

On June 1, 2022, Lee concluded a yearlong celebration of 225 years of Tennessee statehood. Throughout the state’s 225th year, the Governor and First Lady traveled to all 95 counties to meet with Tennesseans and share untold stories of the people, places and moments that have shaped the Volunteer State’s history.