I hope you all had a relaxing and enjoyable holiday season. While Crissy and I are excited to be back in Nashville and working towards moving Tennessee forward, we really enjoyed spending some time with our kids, family and friends.
As you may know, today marks the start of this year’s legislative session. And just a few minutes ago in the Old Supreme Court Chambers, I announced my 2012 legislative package aimed at moving Tennessee forward. This year, my focus remains: working to make Tennessee the No. 1 state in the Southeast for high quality jobs. We hope to get closer to this goal through economic development efforts, meaningful education reform, a more efficient and effective state government and improved public safety. Our 2012 legislative package is aimed at impacting key issues that are absolutely crucial to tackle now. Here’s a sampling of these issues:
- Strengthening the Department of Economic and Community Development’s FastTrack program by budgeting more for the grant program and giving the department more flexibility in utilizing those grants to attract and grow Tennessee jobs
- Lowering the state portion of the sales tax on food from 5.5 percent to 5.0 percent over three years.
- Providing innovation opportunities to local school districts by eliminating the outdated requirement of state and local salary schedules based strictly on seniority and training.
- Taking a first step in reaching my goal of raising the state’s inheritance tax exemption from $1 million to $5 million by increasing it to $1.25 million to lower the burden on family farmers and family business owners as these businesses span generations.
- Restructuring a number of state boards and commissions to eliminate duplicative functions and provide more accountability and oversight of these agencies
- Addressing a number of public safety issues including prescription drug abuse, tougher sentencing for certain types of gang-related crimes, tougher sentencing for gun possession by those with prior violent felony convictions and mandatory jail time for repeat domestic violence offenders
- Updating and reforming the state’s antiquated employment system through the TEAM Act (Tennessee Excellence Accountability and Management) by simplifying the hiring process, providing flexibility to retain and reward outstanding employees and streamlining the appeals process for employees. Watch a video detailing some of the employment issues facing the state »
These examples just scratch the surface of what we’re working on in 2012. I hope you’ll visit forward.tn.gov to learn more and watch a video about some of the issues with our state’s employment system. Thanks so much for your support and please feel free to share your feedback.