“We are never defeated unless we give up on God.” -Ronald Reagan
The House passed a $38.5 billion balanced budget this week and now it must be reconciled with the Senate and brought back to us to ratify. This budget has $42.3 million in operational cuts and adds some new programs to help our state and its citizens. It takes our Rainy Day Fund (savings account) up to $1.1 billion.
I saw an article that Justin Wilson, the state’s comptroller, wrote this week about our low debt and want to relay part of it to you:
“First, we borrow money only to finance capital projects. We never use debt for operating expenses, and we don’t borrow money to build our state’s roads. Second, we do not issue debt with a maturity longer than 20 years. Third, we repay our debt in equal principal payments. This means we repay our debt quickly, with interest payments declining every year.”
“This conservative approach has served us well. We have one of the lowest, if not the very lowest, per-capita debt burdens in the country. Our bonds are rated Triple A by all three major credit rating agencies, and new businesses and people continue to be attracted to our well-managed state. Not bad for the state with the lowest overall taxes in the nation.”
We’ve been in Session a lot this week and have passed out several good bills. One of them is HB 643. This bill creates a grant program through the Department of Finance and Administration (partnering with the Department of Mental Health and TennCare) to assist sheriffs required to transport persons to a hospital or treatment facility. This legislation authorizes a sheriff to contract with one or more third parties or other law enforcement agencies to safely transport these individuals to a location where they can receive the assistance they need. The Governor put $1 million in the budget to help pay for this. This should help our sheriffs get out of the transport business and help them use their officers where they are needed locally.
Another great bill is HB 1016. This requires students to pass a civics test to receive a full diploma upon graduation from high school. This would require our local LEA to create a test from the citizenship and naturalization test with at least 50 questions. Students must answer at least 70% of the questions correctly to receive a passing score. Students with an IEP would not be subject to this requirement. This should insure that our graduating students know much more about our struggles and victories in our storied history.
Next week should end this Legislative Session and I hope to be back home to spend time with my family, working at our trucking business, and hopefully getting some rest. If you need anything from me, please give my legislative office a call at 615-741-6824 or email me at email@example.com. My assistant, Laura Bond, works in the office year round, so she’ll be glad to assist you if I’m not in Nashville.