budget

Read Gov. Bill Lee’s first State of the State address

Gov. Bill Lee delivers his first State of the State address in Nashville on March 4, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Governor Bill Lee’s first State of the State address, as prepared for delivery on Monday evening:

Lieutenant Governor McNally, Speaker Casada, Speaker Pro Tem Haile, Speaker Pro Tem Dunn, Members of the 111th General Assembly, Justices, Constitutional Officers, friends, guests, fellow Tennesseans:

Tennessee’s voters and its constitution have given me the responsibility of delivering this address evaluating where we are as a state and recommending action to make us even better.

I am grateful for this opportunity to serve, and it is my high honor to be here tonight. There’s a scripture that encourages us to consider others as more important than ourselves.

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Lee previews State of the State address

Bill Lee delivers his inaugural address in Nashville on Jan. 19, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican Gov. Bill Lee is previewing his first State of the State addresss with some excerpts, including his approach to the state spending plan, charter schools, public safety, and mental health.

Here’s the full release from Lee’s office:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tonight, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee will give his State of the State address and present his conservative budget to a joint session of the Tennessee General Assembly at 6 p.m. CT on statewide television.

The following excerpts are from his remarks as prepared for delivery:

State of the State

“Now, I think we can all agree that while important things happen in the halls of government, it is actually what happens outside these walls that makes Tennessee truly great.”

“To our elected leaders in this room and the many Tennesseans watching from their homes, I am proud to report after seeing with my own eyes: the state of our state is hopeful, prosperous, and strong.”

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Lee to keep State of the State party going in Knoxville, Memphis

Bill Lee is inaugurated as Tennessee’s 50th governor on Jan. 19, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee is scheduled to give his first State of the State address in Nashville on Monday. But he’s not stopping there. The new governor has announced plans to hold similar regional addresses in Knoxville and Memphis later in the week.

The addresses are dubbed the State of East Tennessee and the State of West Tennessee, respectively. What, no State of Middle Tennessee?

Here’s the full release from Lee’s office:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, in an effort to reach new audiences outside the state capital, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced plans to deliver regional addresses following the State of the State speech next week.

“I look forward to delivering my first State of the State address on Monday during a joint session of the legislature in Nashville, however, I am excited to have these special events in Knoxville and Memphis,” said Lee. “As we present our budget and outline priorities for the next year, we want to engage with as many Tennesseans as we can.”

Gov. Lee will deliver his State of the State address to the General Assembly and members of the public on Monday, March 4 at 6 p.m. CT in the House Chamber of the Tennessee General Assembly in Nashville. The joint session will air statewide.

State of the State occurring in Nashville, and the addition of these two events, he will deliver an address in each Grand Division.

Details for the State of East Tennessee address and the State of West Tennessee address are listed below. The events are free and open to the public with tickets available at https://www.tn.gov/governor/sots. Tickets are needed for entry.

State of East Tennessee
Tuesday, March 5, 2019
6:00 p.m. ET
University of Tennessee – Knoxville
Clarence Brown Theatre
1714 Andy Holt Ave.
Knoxville, TN 37996

State of West Tennessee
Thursday, March 7, 2019
5:30 p.m. CT
University of Memphis
University Center Ballroom
499 University St.
Memphis, TN 38152

Gov. Lee announces $15M mental health initiative

Gov. Bill Lee speaks to the state chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business in Nashville on Feb. 19, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican Gov. Bill Lee on Tuesday announced a $15 million initiative to address mental illness in Tennessee.

Here’s the full release:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced three priorities to increase access to mental health treatment and expand suicide prevention efforts across the state.

“The mental health of our citizens is foundational to all other goals we seek to accomplish in education, job growth and public safety,” said Lee. “By prioritizing our mental health safety net and suicide prevention, we are caring for more Tennesseans and building healthier communities.”

Gov. Lee is proposing $11.2 million in new funding to expand access to services for Tennesseans living with serious mental illness. This investment seeks to cover an additional 7,000 uninsured Tennessee adults through the state’s Behavioral Health Safety Net program, which provides several essential mental health services.  Additionally, the investment addresses increasing costs at the state’s four regional mental health institutes and ensures that those facilities will continue to provide high quality care to Tennesseans with the most significant psychiatric needs.

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Lee uncertain about Casada’s call for more House control on budget

Gov.-elect Bill Lee speaks at a press conference at the state Capitol in Nashville on Nov. 7, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican Gov.-elect Bill Lee says he’s not certain how the House will become more assertive in the state budgeting process. Glen Casada, who won the GOP nomination for House speaker, announced earlier this week that he will seek to give the chamber a bigger role in developing the state’s annual spending plan.

“I have no idea that that is going to happen,” Lee told reporters at a Nashville food bank on Wednesday. “What I do know is we’re going to be working together and we’ve already started that process. I believe we can work together as the executive branch and legislative branch to advance the common good for Tennesseans.”

The Tennessean reports Lee and Casada played phone tag after Casada won the speaker nomination on Tuesday, but finally connected on Wednesday.

“My hope and my belief is that we have an opportunity to actually not work in separate veins, but on the same page,” Lee said.

Meanwhile, Lee said he’s working on assembling his staff and Cabinet. The first announcements are expected next week.

State revenue $13M above budget estimate in May

Press release from Department of Finance and Administration

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Department of Finance and Administration Commissioner Larry Martin today announced that overall May revenues were $1.1 billion, which is $13.1 million more than the state budgeted.

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State revenue $128M above budget estimates in April

Press release from Department of Finance and Administration

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration Commissioner Larry Martin today announced that revenues for April exceeded the monthly revenues from the previous year.  State revenues for April were $1.9 billion, which is a growth of 3.76 percent more than last year and $128.3 million more than the state budgeted.

“Total revenues in April reflect significant improvement compared to  this time last year,” Martin said.  “Much of the growth is driven by franchise and excise tax payments, business tax receipts, privilege taxes and sales tax revenues.  Hall income tax revenues posted a significant reduction from receipts received in April 2017, but were expected to be lower due to several large early payments made in December and January of this fiscal year.  All other tax revenues, taken as a group, exceeded the April estimates.

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TN tax take in March: Complicated but basically about what was expected

Press release from Department of Finance and Administration

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Department of Finance and Administration Commissioner Larry Martin (Friday) announced that Tennessee tax revenue fell short of budgeted estimates in March. Overall March revenues totaled $1.1 billion, which is $84.1 million more than the state collected in March of 2017, but $2 million less than the budgeted estimate for the month.

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House GOP retaliation for Confederate monument removal: A scripted political show?

Some Republicans familiar with the discussions leading up to Tuesday’s state House vote cut $250,000 in funding for Memphis in retaliation for the city removing Confederate statues say the money was put into the state budget on the front end only so that it could be later taken away as  part of an effort send a message to Memphis, reports the Commercial Appeal. Others deny that was the case.

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House votes to penalize Memphis $250K for removing Confederate monuments

In approving a state budget on Tuesday, the House voted 56-31 for an amendment that strips $250,000 in state money earmarked for helping finance the City of Memphis bicentennial celebrations next year – effectively penalizing the city’s removal of Confederate monuments from former city parks late last year.

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