Newsletter from Governor Bill Haslam; July 12, 2012:
With the general assembly adjourned, May, June, and even the first few days of July have been extremely busy for us as we continue to improve state government. I know all of you are extremely busy too, so here’s a quick run-down of why I believe it’s a new day in Tennessee:
Student performance on the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) has shown improvement for the second year in a row.
- In fact, the achievement gains we saw this year represent the largest aggregate gains the state has made on the TCAP.
The state’s unemployment rate is 7.9 percent and below the national average. While this is a significant improvement from nearly 10 percent unemployment at the end of 2010, we’re not satisfied and working hard to improve the situation.
- Just one part of the solution is Jobs4TN Online, a new statewide jobs database aimed at helping connect job seekers with Tennessee employers.
After convening higher education leaders at the Tennessee Residence to discuss affordability, quality and workforce development, I’m looking forward to beginning a series of candid conversations later this month with businesses and post-secondary institutions.
These key pieces of legislation (including three tax cuts) have become law:
- Senate Bill 3763/House Bill 3761: Reduces the state portion of the sales tax on groceries from 5.5 percent to 5.25 percent (Whitwell);
- HB 3760/SB 3762: Phases out the state inheritance tax during the next three years before it is completely eliminated starting January 1, 2016 (Humboldt);
- SB 2777/HB 2840: Repeals Tennessee’s gift tax retroactive to January 1, 2012 (Nashville);
- HB 2346/SB 2208: Redefines school accountability in the state and waives Tennessee from portions of the federal No Child Left Behind law (Nashville);
- HB 2344/SB 2206: Expands the state’s FastTrack program to specifically support economic development in rural communities and for exceptional projects (Nashville);
- HB 2385/SB 2247, HB 2387/SB 2249: Structurally changes the Tennessee Regulatory Authority (TRA) and 21 boards, commissions and licensing programs (Nashville);
- HB 2389/SB 2251, HB 2388/SB 2250, HB 2390/SB 2252: These three bills impose tougher penalties for domestic violence, felons with guns and gang activity (Memphis).
And something to look forward to the next time your driver license is up for renewal:
- The Department of Safety is continuing to improve their processes and is now using iPads for faster self-service driver license renewals. The initial press and feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, so I would love to hear from you if you’ve had a chance to use this new solution.
And here’s a brief look at what’s ahead:
- I’ll be chairing the Education and Workforce Committee at the National Governor’s Association annual meeting in Williamsburg, VA on Friday from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. EDT. We’ll be discussing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which is long past due for reauthorization. If you’re interested in education reform, feel free to tune in to C-SPAN from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. EDT;
- We’re continuing to evaluate the impact of the Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision on the State of Tennessee. In case you missed it, here’s my statement on the decision;
- Crissy and I continue to promote the First Lady’s READ20 Family Book Club across the state. Learn more at Crissy’s website;
- The State Capitol is undergoing a significant mechanical renovation, which is slated for completion later this year. A web video highlighting some of the work and the Capitol’s rich history will be released soon.
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