Photo: Tennessee Governor Bill Lee
Photo Credit: Gov. Bill Lee / Twitter
Published May 7, 2021
Nashville, TN – On May 5th, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee marked the close of the 2021 legislative session, which included the passage of his $42.6 billion budget and full agenda as outlined during his State of the State address in February.
“Lieutenant Governor McNally, Speaker Sexton and the members of the General Assembly have been key partners in reducing crime, supporting strong families and strengthening our economy, especially in rural Tennessee,” said Gov. Lee.
“I commend the legislature for their work this session to pass measures that will benefit Tennesseans and continue our reputation for conservative fiscal management,” Lee concluded.
According to Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, the legislature invested in education and kept taxes and debt low.
“We were presented with many challenges this session and we met each and every one. Most importantly, we ensured our state pension system remains fully funded for years to come. This protects our fiscal stability and our state credit rating,” said McNally.
Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) stated that solutions to improve childhood literacy, a debt-free balanced budget, permitless handgun carry, criminal justice and truth in sentencing reform and preserving election integrity will “continue to move this state forward in a conservative direction.”
“I am proud of these and other achievements that will allow Tennessee to maintain its status as a national leader for all others to follow,” Sexton said.
Gov. Lee’s slate of budget and legislative priorities included initiatives to address criminal justice reform, invest in rural communities, enhance public safety, support families and build on the “successes” of the special session on education.
Highlights from Gov. Lee’s agenda include the following:
Investing in Rural Tennessee
- Investing $100 million to provide underserved areas across the state with high-speed broadband, which is part of a public-private partnership to incentivize broadband providers to match public dollars
- Dedicating $100 million for local infrastructure grants
Strengthening Tennessee Families
- Providing higher education supports for youth aging out of the foster care system
- Extending coverage for adopted youth to retain TennCare eligibility up to age 18
- Expanding postpartum care for the TennCare population from 60 days to a full year
- Reforming the TANF program to promote economic mobility and improve outcomes for recipients
Supporting Tennessee Students
- Increasing transparency for any foreign investment activity on college campuses
- Expanding access and improving quality of apprenticeship programs
- Investing $250 million in the Mental Health Trust Fund
- Increasing the teacher salary component of the BEP by 4%
Enhancing Public Safety
- Protecting the Second Amendment by extending law-abiding Tennesseans’ constitutional right to carry a handgun
- Stiffening penalties for criminals who steal or illegally possess firearms
Prioritizing Conservative Criminal Justice Reform
- Improving outcomes for formerly incarcerated individuals by increasing transparency in the parole process
- Enhancing practices that support success post-release
- Expanding treatment services and community-based supervision for offenders as alternatives to incarceration