Home Local News Gov. Lee delivers 2023 ‘State of the State’ address

Gov. Lee delivers 2023 ‘State of the State’ address

by PRIDE Newsdesk
Gov. Lee, seen here meeting with the Department of Children’s services, is proposing more than $190 million in additional resources to support the embattled department.

On Tuesday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee delivered his fifth State of the State address and presented budget and legislative priorities for the upcoming year to a joint session of the General Assembly and fellow Tennesseans.

“Tennessee is leading the nation as a guiding light for opportunity, security and freedom,” said Lee. “I’m proud to propose a budget and strategic policies that ensure our state continues to be a shining example for educational opportunity, strong families, innovation and economic prosperity.”

According to Gov. Lee, the state’s strong fiscal stewardship places Tennessee in one of the strongest budgetary positions in history and allows for investments to secure continued success. Lee’s proposed $55.6 billion budget includes strategic funding to modernize transportation, ensure economic and educational opportunity, preserve our natural resources, protect children, strengthen families and more.

Lee is proposing updates in the state’s transportation and infrastructure to include $3B to the Transportation Modernization Fund to alleviate urban congestion and fund rural road projects across the state, $300M to expand the State Aid Program for local road projects, and proposing new comprehensive legislation centering on alternative delivery models, public-private partnerships, electric/hybrid vehicle fees.

To further economic and educational opportunities, Lee is proposing: 

  • $288.3M for a one-time three-month sales tax holiday on food from August 1 to October 31, 2023, providing tax relief for Tennessee families
  • Beginning a three-year transition to Single Sales Factor for franchise and excise taxes to improve Tennessee’s ability to compete for jobs and investment
  • $64M to simplify tax administration and conform with the federal bonus depreciation provisions of 2017 Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, allowing businesses to more quickly recover costs and further incentivize investment in Tennessee production
  • $37.8M for Small Business Excise Tax Relief, establishing a standard deduction from excise tax for up to $50,000 of reported net income, earning taxpayers a maximum of $3,250 in direct savings for Tennessee businesses
  • $20.3M for Small Business Franchise Tax Relief that exempts up to $500,000 of property from the franchise tax, giving small- and medium-sized businesses that own property in Tennessee up to $1,250 in tax savings on their annual franchise tax liability
  • $7.9M for Small Business Relief from the Business Gross Receipts Tax, increasing the filing threshold for business tax from $10,000 to $100,000 to ensure that only businesses with $100,000 of gross receipts or more will be subject to the business tax. This includes funding to hold local jurisdictions harmless.
  • $7.3M to establish a state paid family leave tax credit against franchise and excise tax for a two-year pilot period that will mirror the federal tax credit.

Lee plans to increase funding to the much criticized Department of Children’s services to include youth intervention partnerships, an updated case management and payment system, as well as increasing bed capacity.

Other proposals include:

  • $370.8M to update outdated facilities in seven TCAT campuses state-wide
  • $386.2M to invest in new buildings, expansions and improvements to 16 current TCAT campuses
  • $147.5M to build six new TCATs to better serve more students across Tennessee
  • $18.7M to increase the income threshold for pregnant women and caregivers to expand access to TennCare Services
  • $5.2M to provide 12-month continuous TennCare eligibility for low-income children
  • $4.7M to permanently extend postpartum health coverage under TennCare
  • $15M to fund the Summer Youth Employment Program to connect youth and young adults ages 14 to 24 with career exploration opportunities and paid work experiences
  • $350 M in additional funding to local education agencies through Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement (TISA), including $125 M for teacher pay raises
  • $60.8M to extend summer learning camps and expand eligibility age from 4th grade to Kindergarten through 9th grade
  • $10M for Summer Bus Transportation
  • $20M in School Safety Grants to enhance school security
  • $29.7M for the Tennessee School Safety Initiative, expanding staffing to place at least one Homeland Security Special Agent in each of the state’s 95 counties to provide threat assessments and collaborate with local law enforcement
  • Five percent salary pool increase for higher education employees to ensure they attract and retain the best employee base possible
  • $10M to support successful re-entry by expanding Evidence-Based Programming Grants in prisons and jails with a focus on mental health

    Senate Democratic leaders react to Gov. Lee’s State of the State

    Sen. Raumesh Akbari
    Sen. London Lamar

    Tennessee Senate Democratic leaders issued the following statement following Gov. Bill Lee’s State of the State address:

    “We are glad to see an emphasis on tax cuts for small business owners, the conservation of our natural resources, and some targeted investments in maternity care, children and state workers,” said Sen. Raumesh Akbari, Senate minority leader.

    “But most of the new money in this budget is long overdue. They’re putting out fires that have been growing for a decade.

    “State government has to break its bad habit of waiting until a crisis emerges to make meaningful changes. Our caucus stands ready to work with our colleagues to do the hard work of planning for our shared future.”

    Sen. London Lamar, Senate Democratic caucus chairwoman, stated:

    “Instead of leading our state into the 21st century by investing in people and working families, Tennessee is only maintaining the status quo.

    “We are not leading the nation as long as we have abused children sleeping on the floors of state office buildings. We’re not leading the nation if our families don’t have access to affordable housing, health coverage or childcare.

    “This budget does some nice things, but with this much funding available, Tennesseans deserve more than business as usual. If we want to lead the nation, let’s get to work on real investments for our people, families and businesses.”

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