NASHVILLE – Tennessee Governor Bill Lee gave his first annual State of the State address this year.
He delivered the traditional address Monday in Nashville, but now he’s on the road to Knoxville and Memphis to deliver his message.
Gov. Lee’s first State of the State address in Nashville, he focused on improving education, reducing prison populations, mental health, teacher raises and health care reform.
Gov. Lee stated his main focus is education.
Lee’s proposing a 2.5 percent pay raise for teachers, more VO-TECH training, and $30 million for school safety.
Gov. Lee’s also proposing ESA’s, education savings accounts that the he said will give parents more school choices without taking precious funds away from traditional public schools:
In regards to prison reform and the drug problem, the Governor and his senior staff promised to serve as mentors to help inmates on their path after release.
“Of those who are incarcerated, 95% are not serving a life sentence and will eventually
come out and we need to be sure they are prepared for that. Why? Because every successful reentry means one less crime and one less victim.”
“My commitment to having fewer crime victims in this state is reflected in a proposed expansion of education and re-entry counseling opportunities in our prisons. Educational attainment for incarcerated people can reduce their risk of recidivism by up to 43%.”
In regards to mental health, “Too often, the conversation around health care focuses exclusively on physical health. Our physical well-being is important, but a national conversation around mental and behavioral health is long overdue. Nearly 300,000 Tennesseans are facing serious mental health challenges, and far too many are slipping through the cracks.”
Gov. Lee proposed a $25 million Education Savings Account fund that he states will create more competition between schools and improve outcomes.
Gov. Lee announced the new office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives that he said will leverage the non-profit community while reducing the size of government.
“Governor Lee’s heart is in the right place. His compassion and relectless efforts to lead our state and improve outcomes in education, battling the opioid crisis, rural development, assist with prison reform and mental health is greatly appreciated,” said Rep. Jerry Sexton, the Grainger County Republican.
The Governor’s budegt also calls to spend $4 million to increase STEM training in K-12 schools, $15 million to expand access to mental health services and $40 million to provide more school resource safety officers.