Governor Lee presents conservative budget proposal highlighting job growth, public safety and education improvements
(NASHVILLE, Tenn.), March 7, 2019 – Governor Bill Lee presented his first State of the State / Budget Address to the General Assembly Monday evening outlining his proposals for the 2019-2020 budget year. The proposed budget continues Tennessee’s strong fiscal stewardship which has earned the state triple-A bond ratings with the nation’s top credit rating agencies and recognition as one of the best financially managed states in the U.S. It also makes key investments to promote job growth, improve education, expand rural opportunities, and enhance public safety.
In addition, the Governor offered initiatives to modernize healthcare and make it more affordable.
Lawmakers went straight to work Tuesday morning examining budget details. The Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee heard testimony from administration officials who gave a budget overview and answered numerous questions about the spending plan. Committee members expressed strong support for the Governor’s plan to add a record-breaking deposit to the Rainy Day Fund that will lift the state’s savings account to a historic high of $1.1 billion. The fund is critical in times of emergency or a downturn in the economy.
The $38.6 billion budget represents a 1.1 percent growth and cuts $42.2 million in costs without compromising services. It also does not take on any long-term debt. On tax relief, the proposal provides $10 million to fund legislation repealing the amusement tax on gym memberships which has disproportionately impacted small business owners. The tax relief legislation advanced through the Senate Revenue Subcommittee this week. The tax, which is exempted for gyms over 15,000 square feet, serves as a disincentive for physical fitness centers at a time when Tennessee is ranked 40th in the nation for physical activity and 35th for adult obesity. Illnesses related to diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease costs Tennessee directly and indirectly more than $5.3 billion annually.
The Senate’s nine standing committees have scheduled a combined 59 hearings to review individual budgets of all departments and agencies of state government over the next five weeks.