Roads, parks, tax breaks: A look at Gov. Lee’s budget
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has unveiled a $55.6 billion state budget proposal stocked with cash for roads, state parks, tax cuts for businesses, state employee pay boosts and more. The plan put forth by Lee also fuels a number of areas to benefit health coverage for low-income women and children, in addition to anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers. It comes as he and fellow Republicans sort through scrutiny over one of the country’s strictest abortion bans. goes to the Republican-supermajority Legislature for their consideration.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee on Monday unveiled a $55.6 billion state budget proposal stocked with cash for roads, state parks, tax cuts for businesses, state employee pay boosts and more.
The plan put forth by Lee also fuels a number of areas to benefit health coverage for low-income women and children, in addition to anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers, as he and fellow Republicans sort through scrutiny over one of the country’s strictest abortion bans.
The plan is buoyed by better-than-expected revenues and comes in at $618.6 million less than the current budget, which was boosted by extra federal funding during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here is a look at some specifics of the spending blueprint, which goes to the Republican-supermajority Legislature for its consideration:
BUSINESS, LABOR, INFRASTRUCTURE
— ROADS: $3 billion from the general fund into a transportation fund for road projects statewide; $300 million for the local highway program.
— TAX CUTS: $54 million annually and $360 million in one-time money worth of tax cuts and other tax changes; includes three-month grocery sales tax holiday on food; creates exemptions or reductions to several business taxes, largely aimed at small businesses; creates a paid family leave credit against franchise and excise taxes.
— MEMPHIS SPORTS FACILITIES: $350 million for improvements at FedEx Forum and Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium in Memphis.
— PERFORMING ARTS: $200 million to help relocate the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville.
— ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT GRANTS: $103 million, including $18 million annually, for the Jobs4TN program to recruit new businesses and support workforce training, marketing and education.
— NUCLEAR POWER: $50 million to invest further in nuclear energy.
— RURAL GRANTS: $45 million in grants to aid various rural development initiatives.
— YOUTH WORK: $15 million summer work pilot program to connect youth and young adults with paid work experiences and career exploration.
PAY, RESERVES, PENSIONS
— PAY BOOSTS: $165 million for state employee marketing adjustments; $92.6 million for a 5% increase to the employee pay fund for executive branch agencies; $20.7 million for pay increases for other public employees; $35.7 million to double the state’s 401k match for first $50 in employee contributions.
— JUNETEENTH: $692,000 to make Juneteenth a state holiday.
— RAINY DAY FUND: $250 million to add to the state’s reserves.
— PENSIONS: $550 million to pay into unfunded liabilities of pension programs.
HEALTH AND ABORTION
— CRISIS PREGNANCY CENTERS: $100 million in grants for crisis pregnancy centers, typically religiously affiliated nonprofits that counsel clients against having an abortion as part of their free but limited services.
— TENNCARE ELIGIBILITY: $13.5 million annually to increase TennCare parental eligibility to 100% of the federal poverty level; $5.1 million annually to increase the pregnancy benefit eligibility to 250% of the federal poverty level; $4.7 million annually to continue the one-year postpartum coverage permanently; $1 million to cover lactation consultations.
— INTELLECTUAL AND DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES: $22 million annually for children in longer-term placements unable to be put in traditional foster care; $15 million annually for children with disabilities in hospitals to be stepped down to a lesser level of care.
— CHILDREN’S SERVICES: $193.5 million for various initiatives to increase bed capacity by 166; increase foster and provider rates; give case managers salary adjustments; improve aging information systems; salary increases at a secured facility for youth offenders; and more.
— ENVIRONMENT AND PARKS: $450 million for state parks and natural areas; introduces four new state parks and three new natural areas and improvements to other parks and trails, and $82.7 million for brownfields.
— TEACHER SALARIES: $125 million for teacher pay increases through $350 million in cost increases in the new school funding formula.
— COMMUNITY AND TECHNICAL COLLEGES: $952.9 million for replacement campuses, new campus locations, new buildings and maintenance at Tennessee Community and Technical Colleges.
— TROOPERS: $28.7 million to add 142 new Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper positions.
— SCHOOLS: $24.7 million for 122 Department of Homeland Security agents to focus on school safety; $20 million for school safety improvement grants.
— COMMUNICATIONS: $357 million for expansions to Tennessee’s law enforcement communications network.
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