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State Representative Pat Marsh’s Letter to the District: 04/20/18

“Never lose sight of the fact that the most important yardstick of your success will be how you treat other people – your family, friends, and coworkers, and even strangers you meet along the way.” – Barbara Bush

Governor Haslam announced this week that more than 10,000 adults have applied for the Tennessee Reconnect Scholarship. The application opened on February 12th. The Tennessee Reconnect Scholarship covers tuition and mandatory fees at a Tennessee college or technological college for eligible adults who have not yet received a college degree. The application will stay open year-round for anyone who is interested in applying. Applying requires 4 steps:

  1. Complete the application at TNReconnect.gov
  2. Apply to a local community college or eligible Tennessee Reconnect Institution
  3. File the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) at FAFSA.gov
  4. Enroll in a degree or certificate program at least part-time

Also this week, Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner Jai Templeton and Economic Community Development Assistant commissioner, Amy New, announced the second group of recipients of funding provided by the Agriculture Enterprise Fund (AEF). The AEF came from Governor Haslam’s Rural Task Force and is an incentive program supporting job creation and economic development. It provides assistance to new and expanding Tennessee agriculture and food businesses mainly in rural counties. To be eligible for these grants, you must demonstrate strong potential for impact on your local farm income, access to markets, increased capacity, or agricultural innovation. At-risk or distressed counties are given priority when giving out the grants. Potts Meat Processing of Bedford County received part of this state grant to expand its meat processing facility.  Congratulations!

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development announced that Wartrace would be receiving a $53,900 dollar tourism grant for infrastructure improvements to Jernigan Field. The Tourism Enhancement grants are popular with our rural communities and are funded out of the rural development fund that was created by the Rural Economic Opportunity Act we passed a couple of sessions ago. Congratulations Wartrace!

We passed House Bill 1917 which will allow us to continue the Go Build Tennessee Program through the year 2024. This program makes the public and schools aware of the many opportunities available in the trades sector of our economy.  This is a big stride to raising awareness about the abundance of high paying jobs in the trade industry available in communities across the state. Since this program began in 2015, 74 percent of students have stated that they were more likely to pursue a career in the trades after hearing about the program. Construction and trade jobs are some of the highest paying jobs in Tennessee, and this program does a great job will filling those job vacancies!

We passed the State’s budget this week.  The $37.5 billion balanced budget is a less than 1% increase from the revised fiscal year 2018 budget of approximately $35 billion. Agencies submitted $78.6 million in budget reductions for the fiscal year 2019 and recommended 335 positions be cut. This budget includes over $213 million addressing employee compensation, health insurance premiums, and retiree health insurance. We funded major initiatives presented by both the Legislature and the Governor — Juvenile Justice Reform, the supply of opioids with a focus on prevention and treatment, and changes to the UT system. We are continuing our investment in Broadband, adding $15 million to Broadband expansion.

We are adding an additional $11 million to the Rainy Day Fund, bringing the projected balance at June 30, 2019, to $861 million. This is the highest balance reached in Tennessee’s history. We also added $9 million to our TCAT schools for equipment and $330 million to K-12 and Higher Ed for capital projects (buildings).

Our state is in great shape with no income tax and very little debt and a great bond rating from the best bond agencies in the nation. Our unemployment rate is at a record low and we are noted as the best state in the union to retire in. We must keep all of this great work up and keep making our state the best state to live and work and to raise a family.

As always, feel free to stop by my office at the Cordell Hull Building Suite 540 or give me a call if you have any questions or concerns. You can reach me at (615) 741-6824 or by email at rep.pat.marsh@capitol.tn.gov. You can also find information on my new Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/RepPatMarsh/. 

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