Lee details amendments to annual spending plan

Gov. Bill Lee speaks to reporters outside the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville on Jan. 19, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee is making his end-of-session amendment to the state’s annual spending plan. Here’s a release from the governor’s office detailing the proposal:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced his amendment to the proposed Fiscal Year 2021-2022 budget.  

The amendment includes $580 million in available funds as a result of fiscal prudence. These funds will be invested in strategic long-term projects that focus on a return to pre-pandemic priorities and deliver critical services while not growing government. The budget amendment also includes nearly $100 million for a two-week sales tax holiday on all grocery sales, purchases at restaurants, and all prepared food. 

“This proposal supports Tennesseans by strategically investing in long-term initiatives that will move our state forward,” said Gov. Lee. “I’m especially proud to provide tax cuts to get money back to Tennesseans to encourage them to frequent industries that have been disproportionately and negatively impacted this year.”  

This amendment reflects the Governor’s priorities and includes record investments in broadband, economic development, safety and law enforcement, increasing reserves, and education.  

“Due to Tennessee’s strong financial leadership, Tennessee has been ranked number one in fiscal stability by US World News & Report in both 2019 and 2020,” said Commissioner of Finance and Administration Butch Eley. “Our prudent and cautious approach has established Tennessee as a leader in fiscal conservatism, and we thank the General Assembly for their partnership in these efforts.” 

Notable investments in the FY 21-22 budget amendment include:   

Tax Cuts 

  • $25M for a two-week sales tax holiday for groceries 
  •  $75M for a two-week sales tax holiday for restaurants and all prepared food 
  •  $16M to reduce the professional privilege tax by 25 percent

K-12 Education and Mental Health 

  • $250M trust fund to assist K-12 families who are facing significant mental health issues in the wake of COVID-19 
  • $18.5M to transportation to students for summer learning  
  • $2M to provide an additional 4 high quality, grade aligned books and resources over the summer for the 88,000 rising first graders in Tennessee 

Higher Education 

  • $79M to eliminate current TCAT waitlists statewide, currently at 11,400 students 
  •  $25M to Tennessee Promise to permit increases in the Hope Scholarship  
  • $4M to increase Agriculture Extension Agents at University of Tennessee and Tennessee State University  

Rural & Agriculture  

  • $50K to support the state fair (in addition to the $250,000 recurring in originally proposed budget for total of $300K and $5M non-recurring)  
  • $3M to provide additional funding for rural projects as part of the Rural Economic Opportunity Fund (in addition to $21M in originally proposed budget for total of $24M)   


  • $500K to provide gun safety programming for children  
  • $17M to replace radios for state troopers   
  • $18M to improve the statewide disaster communications system  
  • $680K to add 4 new Homeland Security Agents  

Economic Development 

  • $5M to provide grants to restore and preserve historic downtowns across the state  
  • $3M to increase employment in Tennessee through the Small Business Innovation program 


  • $3M recurring and an additional $10M nonrecurring to provide additional direct funding to airports across Tennessee through the Transportation Equity Fund (total $50M investment in air infrastructure) 

To view the full budget amendment, click here.

15 Responses to Lee details amendments to annual spending plan

  • Avatar
    James White says:

    Vote No !

  • Avatar
    Eddie White says:

    Glad to see some tax reductions in the revisions. Seems the surplus is seldom given back to the taxpayers. It would be nice to see the sales tax taken off groceries permanently.

  • Avatar
    Not that Stuart guy says:

    It seems to me a permanent fractional decrease in the sales tax would be better than a one-time tax holiday for struggling Tennesseans, but hey, that sounds an awful lot like a Democratic initiative, so we can’t have that. I also see a permanent 25% reduction in the privilege tax. Again, a permanent reduction in the sales tax would be of more overall benefit and stimulate the entire economy. (And depending on how much a typical doctor or lawyer spends, could even more than offset the $ that would have been saved by reducing the privilege tax.)
    The rest of the requests seem inoffensive enough, although clearly Governor Lee’s definition of “growing the government” and mine are not the same…

    • Avatar
      Cryan says:

      I’m envious of those who live near the state line – no income tax in Tennessee and low sales tax across the border.

      I would hate to be a retail business in a Tennessee border town, though. Pro-business Republicans my ass.

  • Avatar
    Beatrice Shaw says:

    not sure how any of this helps the poor communities trying to overcome the pandemic. We need a permanent sales tax holiday on food. food and shelter are basic rights we should not be paying for….healthcare and education also.

    • Avatar
      MARLE says:

      No they are not Rights; they are Gifts made by government acquired taking money from taxpayers under the threat of prosecution.

    • Avatar
      steve cates says:

      Yes, Beatrice, you are exactly right!!!

      • Avatar
        Stuart I. Anderson says:

        Weeeeeeeee Let all go to La-La land with Beatrice and steve where you simply declare that you are “poor” and you have no intention of being anything but “poor” and you get some jerk who goes to work every day and lives within his means to pay for your food, shelter, healthcare and education because they are rights don’t you know. How about transportation and clothing aren’t those rights too or entertainment – come on Beatrice and steve don’t be stingy.

        Imagine there’s no economy, it isn’t hard to do, no need to get up and go to work, and no bosses too. Imagine all the layabouts, living free day to dayyyyyyyy. You may think that B & s are dreamers, but they’re not the only ones, some day I might join them. . .AND YOU CAN SEND ME TO THE FRICKEN FUNNY FARM!

  • Avatar
    Cryan says:

    Now I know why Stuart I Anderson is so quiet today. Peter Thiel, Facebook billionaire and initial financier of the Trump campaign, is backing JD Vance in the Ohio Senate race.

    Republicans love a washed up, b-movie celebrity. When is Peter going to finance the WWE man or Kid Rock for higher office in Tennessee? My bet is on 2022.

  • Avatar
    Phillip Lassiter says:

    There are a lot of BS pet projects in here. So much for Covid1984 being bad for the economy.

    • Avatar
      Taxpayer #314 says:

      Yes, the state legislature should get back to the really very important business they have before them…the discussion on wheather the “Ladder” should become the “Official Tennessee State TOOL.”

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