Press release from the Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council, Feb. 4, 2014:
Governor Haslam’s State of the State Address
By Gary Moore, Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council president
NASHVILLE, TN – Just like last week’s State of the Union Address, this year’s State of the State Address from Governor Bill Haslam is in the books. Instead of reading about it after the fact, we were given a live look at his true priorities…and an area that he’s SERIOUSLY neglecting over and over again.
Unsurprisingly, his speech started out positively enough. Governor Haslam noted that Tennessee was ranked the third best-managed state last year. Later on, he casually mentioned the fact that Tennessee was named the best state to retire in 2013. He called us a “model” to other areas of the country.
A model? Governor Haslam, I respectfully disagree. While I do not deny that Tennessee has made strides forward, it has also taken some major steps backward in recent years.
Since our governor addressed it last night, let’s take the ongoing issue of expanding TennCare. He said that “We have $260 million in new revenue this year. Increased TennCare costs will take up $180 million, employee health insurance costs are up $40 million, and $120 million are proposed for education.” Obviously, that puts the total at -$80 million BEFORE anything else is even considered for expansion.
In his best attempts to put it “nicely,” Governor Haslam made it clear once again last night that he has NO plans to explore expanding TennCare, even though there are hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans who lack quality health care.
Yes, the governor detailed his plans concerning education after high school in Tennessee. I’m not saying that the issue isn’t important, but it was evident that health care accessibility and expansion aren’t even blips on his radar screen.
As we all know, 2014 is an election year. It’s up to us to elect government officials who ARE interested in ensuring that ALL Tennesseans have access to good health care, not just those who can afford it.