A Note from the Capitol
Posted: Thursday, June 16, 2011 11:27 am
By: Gov. Bill Haslam, Special to The Press
The 107th General Assembly has adjourned, and I am proud to report that in working together we accomplished a great deal for the people of Tennessee.
My administration began this year by making some tough budget decisions and introduced a legislative package geared toward making Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high-quality jobs.
I appreciate the General Assembly’s support and approval of our key priorities and legislation including:
• an overhaul of teacher tenure tying it to teacher performance;
• revising the state’s civil justice system to bring predictability to companies and improve the state’s business environment;
• removing the cap on and opening enrollment to charter schools;
• and allowing college students to use HOPE lottery scholarships for summer classes.
In my first State of the State address back in March, I called upon all those in state government to join me in transforming how the state sets priorities and makes choices.
I urged lawmakers to tighten their belts in an effort to get our fiscal accounts in order by living within our means.
We tackled a $1.8 billion reduction our state received in federal funding from the previous year by doing what Tennessee families have done during these difficult times: evaluating our needs and available resources and setting budget priorities.
The final $30.8 billion budget reflects responsible investments, reductions and savings, including:
• $1 million in recurring funds to soften the impact of the Hall Income Tax on seniors;
• A 1.6 percent salary increase for state employees - the first in four years;
• Restoring $70.4 million to the Rainy Day Fund;
• $3.8 billion to fully fund the BEP, including a $48.7 million increase for K-12 education;
• 71.3 million for disaster relief resulting from recent storms and flooding; and funding for health care and mental health for Tennessee’s most vulnerable citizens.
I appreciate the leadership of Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey, Speaker of the House Beth Harwell, Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick and legislative leadership.
It is commendable that the Legislature conducted its business in an efficient and effective manner and adjourned as early as it did in May.
As we head into the summer, I am looking forward to hitting the road with Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty to work on growing jobs in Tennessee both with existing businesses and companies outside of the state.
While we have accomplished a great deal in education reform this year, Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman and I will continue to travel across Tennessee listening to educators and building upon our reputation as a state that is making great strides in education.
We will remain focused on what is most impactful to the children in our classrooms.
And I look forward to working with all of our commissioners as they continue to conduct top-to- bottom reviews of each department to make sure that we are serving Tennesseans in the most efficient and effective way possible.
As always, I look forward to hearing from you.
If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gov. Bill Haslam