Tennessee Democratic Leaders say Gov. Bill Lee’s second term needs to improve in order for Tennessee to live up to its full potential. Lee was sworn in outside the State Capitol on the Legislative Plaza in Nashville. The theme of the Inaugural was ‘Tennessee: Leading the Nation.’ However, Democrats say the state is leading the nation in too many of the wrong categories. Some of those include:
- third highest-ranking state in violent crime and gun deaths
- 39th in the nation in teacher salaries
- 42nd healthiest state
- 12th highest in child poverty
- fifth highest in bankruptcies and loan defaults
- third highest in opioid abuse
- 10th highest in drug overdose deaths
- 46th in voter turnout
House Minority Leader Karen Camper (D-Memphis) said: “While there have been accomplishments in the past four years, such as Blue Oval City in West Tennessee, our state cannot truly be a success until every child can sleep safely and soundly at night and be protected and nurtured. That’s not happening with the Department of Children’s Services where we have children sleeping on floors in state office buildings.
“In his inaugural address, the governor mentioned bipartisanship and working together prominently. It’s my hope that the spirit of bipartisanship continues in this upcoming legislative session so that we can develop public policy and budgetary commitments designed to help all Tennesseans share in our state’s economic successes.”
Democratic Caucus Chair John Ray Clemmons of Nashville said the governor’s second term is not getting off to a good start.
“When the first act of Lee’s new Commissioner of Health is to put the health of Tennesseans at risk by inexplicably rejecting federal aid for HIV prevention, that’s a precursor to what could be a very chilling four years to come,” Clemmons said. “We have already seen massive failures in the foster care system at DCS and we’ve been presented a half-baked transportation funding proposal that does absolutely nothing to address out state’s transportation infrastructure needs. We’ve also learned about a push to expand Lee’s voucher program and another attempt to disenfranchise minority voters in Nashville.
“Right now, the government in the state of Tennessee is broken. It’s failed leadership at the highest level. My fellow Democrats in the State Legislature, however, stand ready to do the hard work for Tennessee families, work across the aisle, and enact real solutions to the challenges facing every Tennessee family”