Tennessee Governor Bill Lee delivered his sixth State of the State address on Monday, February 5 and presented budget and legislative priorities for the upcoming year to a joint session of the General Assembly and fellow Tennesseans.
“Tennessee is a remarkable place with a richness of passionate people of all kinds, an unrivaled culture and deep-rooted traditions,” said Gov. Lee. “We are also a state that is focused on opportunity, security and freedom for all of her people. In 2024, and for the remainder of my time in office, I believe our job is to fortify that which has been built over the years, and to remember the work it took to get here.”
Our state’s legacy of responsible fiscal stewardship places Tennessee in a strong budgetary position and allows for investments to secure continued success. Lee’s proposed $53 billion budget includes strategic funding to ensure economic and educational opportunity, protect Tennessee voices, preserve our natural resources, strengthen families, and more.
Notable highlights from Gov. Lee’s FY24-25 agenda include:
Economic Opportunity & Tax Relief
· $20 million investment in Tennessee’s Rainy Day Fund, bringing Tennessee reserves to more than $2 billion, the largest in state history
· $410 million recurring funding and $1.2 billion non recurring funding to simplify the franchise tax in Tennessee
Public Education Investments
· More than $261 million to strengthen education through the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement (TISA) formula growth, including teacher pay raises
· $30 million for summer learning programs to support students between school years
· $3.2 million dedicated to AP Access for All, which provides AP courses to students across rural and urban Tennessee
· $2.5 million to strengthen students’ reading and phonics skills
· $577,000 to ensure we train Tennessee teachers to be the best and brightest educators of Tennessee children
· $15 million to fund charter school facility improvements
Expanding Choices for Tennessee Parents
· $141.5 million to establish Education Freedom Scholarships to empower parents with the freedom to pick the right school for their child
Strong & Healthy Families
· $208 million over five years from TennCare shared savings to strengthen rural health by investing in apprenticeships and skilled training, greater access to specialty care and telemedicine, improved career pathways, hospital and physician practice grants, and a new Center of Excellence to sustain and expand rural health support.
· $100 million over five years from TennCare shared savings to strengthen mental health care by investing in community mental health centers and behavioral health hospitals, expanding substance abuse disorder treatment, intensive in-home supports, primary care training, early childhood training, and children’s hospital infrastructure.
· $26.7 million investment in services for Tennesseans with disabilities
· $17 million in funding for an additional 60 State Troopers and related support staff to improve public safety across the state
· $8 million to expand the school-based behavioral health liaison program to fund 114 liaisons, giving students across Tennessee schools important resources and mental health support
· $750,000 to fund Houses of Worship Security Grants
· Funding for a National Guard recruitment incentive package
· $63 million to create four new Tennessee State Parks, with the goal of funding a total of eight new state parks by the time Gov. Lee leaves office, tying a Tennessee record for the most state parks created by one administration
· $20 million to expand blueway trail access, which will drive tourism and economic activity across our rural communities
· $20 million to improve water quality at rivers, lakes and streams across the state, making them safe for future generations to enjoy and the Bill Dance Signature Lakes Fishing Trail
· $25 million to establish the Farmland Conservation Fund, partnering with farmers to place a conservation easement on their land to preserve and protect Tennessee for future generations
· $5 million to protect and enhance scenic beauty along our major highways
· $3 million for Access 2030 to make Tennessee State Parks accessible to Tennesseans with disabilities