STATE REPRESENTATIVE JOHN CRAWFORD’S CAPITOL HILL REVIEW: 02/02/2018

February 2, 2018

State Representative John Crawford Attends State Of The State Address

Governor unveils 2017 budget proposal

In his final State of the State address to the General Assembly this week, Governor Bill Haslam unveiled his budget priorities for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. Haslam addressed multiple issues during the speech and challenged all Tennesseans to lead the nation in creating high-quality jobs, improving the education of students, and working to provide the most efficient and effective state government services possible.

Throughout the address, Haslam focused on the momentum created since Republicans took control of the legislature and Governor’s office in 2011. He spent time reflecting on the past seven years, working with the General Assembly to create a strong commitment to jobs, education, and conservative fiscal policies that have resulted in multiple significant accomplishments for the state, including:

  • The lowest unemployment rates in Tennessee’s 222-year history and a job growth rate greater than 17 percent, with nearly 400,000 net new private sector jobs created;
  • The fastest-improving students in the nation, across math, reading and science, and the highest high school graduation rates the state has ever seen;
  • Nearly $1.5 billion invested in K-12 education, with $500 million going to teacher salaries;
  • Nearly $800 million in tax cuts to Tennesseans, including a 30 percent cut on groceries;
  • Being named ‘State of the Year’ in back-to-back years, becoming the only state to ever do so;
  • Ranking #1 for new jobs from foreign direct investment and being named the #1 state for retirement;
  • A cut in year-to-year spending by more than a half-billion dollars;
  • And a tripling of the state’s Rainy Day Fund, bringing it to its highest amount in state history.

In addition to these major accomplishments, Haslam applauded the General Assembly for passing legislation to give all Tennesseans access to college free of tuition and fees through the Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect programs. To assist in ensuring those incoming students complete college and enter the workforce with degrees or certificates in a timely manner, Haslam also announced the Complete to Compete initiative during the speech. Once passed by the legislature, this new plan will restructure financial aid requirements for Promise and HOPE scholarships to keep students on track for on-time completion, and requires community colleges to implement structured, ready-made schedules for all incoming full-time students based on their academic program.

The Governor also announced plans for the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018 — an initiative created based upon recommendations made by members of House Speaker Beth Harwell’s Joint Ad-Hoc Blue Ribbon Task Force on Juvenile Justice. Research suggests that taking youths out of their homes and schools for minor offenses increases the risk of recidivism, diverts resources from youth who pose a risk to the community, and uses taxpayer dollars unnecessarily because community-based services are often more effective and cost-efficient. The Juvenile Justice Reform Act will tackle these problems and help strengthen families and communities while promoting public safety and ensuring a responsible and conservative use of resources.

In addition to the Complete to Compete initiative and Juvenile Justice Reform Act, Governor Haslam also unveiled additional details of the Tennessee Together program, a multi-faceted plan comprised of legislation, $30 million in funds through Governor Haslam’s proposed budget, and other executive actions to battle opioids through the three major components of prevention, treatment, and law enforcement. Similar to the Juvenile Justice Act, the Tennessee Together plan incorporates recommendations made by Speaker Beth Harwell’s Ad Hoc Task Force on Opioid Abuse.

Other notable budget highlights investments for the year include:

  • More than $200 million in new state funding for K-12 education, including additional funds for teacher compensation;
  • Nearly $100 million for higher education initiatives;
  • $128 million for job growth investments, including programs that target rural communities;
  • And investments to bring the state’s Rainy Day Fund to $850 million.

The full text of the Governor’s address along with video from the speech can be found by visiting tn.gov/governor.

 

House Republicans Introduce Legislation Outlawing TennCare Reimbursements To Abortion Providers

This week, House Republicans introduced legislation to outlaw TennCare reimbursements to the state’s abortion providers.

House Bill 2251 aims at protecting the sanctity of life by eliminating taxpayer funding to facilities that perform elective abortions. It does not impact the availability of other critical health care services offered to women.

While some believe taxpayer dollars have been banned from funding abortions in Tennessee, documents from the Tennessee Department of Finance & Administration show providers across our state have received almost $1 million in funding from 2012-2017. Supporters of House Bill 2251 hope to change this by ending taxpayer assistance to these facilities once and for all.

The support of this legislation by House Republicans is the latest in a series of initiatives designed to protect Tennessee’s unborn.

During the 2017 legislative session, Republican lawmakers passed the Tennessee Infants Protection Act; it prohibits abortions after 24 weeks — except in medical emergency — and requires testing to determine viability of an unborn child if a woman is at least 20 weeks pregnant. The Tennessee Infants Protection Act also holds physicians who perform late-term abortions accountable for their actions.

For more information about House Bill 2251, please click here.