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2024 State Legislative Preview: Education and Budget

This information is provided by the office of 28th District State Sen. Joey Hensley, MD, Re-Hohenwald, who represents Giles Lewis, Marshall, Maury counties and part of Williamson County in the State Legislature.

Education

Keeping politics out of K-12 classrooms – In recent years, the General Assembly has made significant progress in passing legislation to prohibit teaching inappropriate political concepts such as transgender ideology and other sexual concepts in public school classrooms. Lawmakers have passed laws to increase transparency and oversight of instructional materials and literature in public schools by ensuring parents know what reading material and books their child has access to in classroom and school libraries.

Expect lawmakers to continue to ensure Tennessee public schools are focused on educating students in core academic subjects and ensure the responsibility of ideological teaching lies solely with parents and not teachers.

School Safety - In the 2024 legislative session, expect lawmakers to continue exploring ways to strengthen school safety.

After the deadly attack at Covenant School in Nashville on March 27, which stole six lives, the General Assembly took a close look at ways to enhance a previously proposed school safety initiative. The lawmakers passed the enhanced comprehensive measure to improve school safety standards and protocols at public and private schools.

As part of the enhanced measures, the General Assembly also made a record investment in school safety of $232 million - which provided grants for a School Resource Officer in every public school, and grants for public and private schools to make hardware security upgrades.

In 2024, lawmakers will examine how the 2023 enhanced school safety measures are working, and look for ways to continue making improvements.

Lawmakers will consider investing in technology and communications systems that could enable teachers to immediately alert SROs and local law enforcement to active threats of violence in their classrooms.

BUDGET

Passing a balanced budget is the most important Constitutional duty of the Tennessee General Assembly.

"As a member of the Senate Finance Committee and Chairman of the Revenue Sub-Committee which looks at all tax legislation, I am especially concerned with the budget," according to Hensley.

The proposed budget is usually presented to the General Assembly in February, but departments already are announcing requests, economic statistics are published regularly, and experts are providing valuable testimony .

For almost a decade, Tennessee has had unprecedented economic growth, which led to years of higher than expected revenue collections for the state.

However, for the first time since 2014,  the state’s revenue is growing at a slower pace than expected.

The State Funding Board estimated revenue growth for fiscal year 2023 to be at 7.7%, however actual growth was closer to 5.39%. As a result, experts expect a $330 million budget shortfall. Lawmakers will need to be more conservative with spending going into the 2024 fiscal year to make up for the shortfall.

Tennessee’s economic outlook remains strong. Despite lower than expected revenue collections and record-high inflation, Tennessee’s economy continues to outperform the national average.

In 2022 Tennessee was the 2nd fastest growing state in terms of real GDP, with a real GDP growth rate of 4.3% compared with a national average of 2.1%.

Overall, the state is in a good financial position.  Tennessee has a proud tradition of being a well-managed, fiscally conservative state with the lowest possible tax burden to residents, and that will continue.

The AAA-ranked Volunteer State is ranked among the least indebted states in the nation and leads the nation for fiscal stability and low taxes.  

To ensure the state’s financial stability is maintained in an economic downturn, lawmakers have continued to build Tennessee’s Rainy Day Fund, which serves as the state’s savings account.

In 2023 the legislature invested $250 million into the Rainy Day Fund, bringing it to over $2 billion, the highest level in state history.

Sen. Hensley may be contacted at 425 Rep. John Lewis Way N., Suite 742, Nashville, TN, 37243 o call 1-615-741-3100, or call toll free, 1-800-449-8366 extension 13100, or fax 615-253-0231.

His district address is 855 Summertown Highway, Hohenwald, TN, 38462, or phone 931-796-2018, or call his cell phone at 931-212-8823, or e-mail: sen.joey.hensley@capitol.tn.gov


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This information comes from the office of 28th District State Sen. Joey Hensley, MD, R-Hohenwald, who represents Giles, Lewis, Marshall, Maury and part of Williamson counties. On Capitol Hill, Senat

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