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Gov. Lee Releases Tennessee Budget Proposals

This information comes from the office of 28th District State Sen. Joey Hensley MD, R Hohenwald. who represents Giles, Lewis, Maury and Marshall counties.

This week was highlighted by Gov. Bill Lee delivering his fifth State of the State Address in a joint session of the General Assembly.

In the speech ‘Tennessee: Leading the Nation,’ Lee presented his $55.6 billion budget proposal and legislative priorities for 2023.

Tennessee’s strong fiscal stewardship places the state in one of the strongest budgetary positions in history and allows for investments to ensure continued success.

Lee’s future-looking proposal includes funding to modernize transportation, ensure economic and educational opportunity, preserve natural resources, protect children, strengthen families and more.

Transportation and infrastructure emerged as the top budget item.

Lee proposed a $3 billion transportation modernization fund to alleviate urban congestion and fund rural road projects.

Another big priority Lee highlighted is protecting Tennessee children by investing $190 million in the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) and improving adoption and foster care services.

In addition, Lee is proposing $100 million for Crisis Pregnancy Provider Support Grants, improving access to healthcare and providing information for expecting mothers. Pro-life lawmakers have identified similar priorities and introduced legislation to solidify Tennessee’s commitment to protecting children before birth and throughout childhood.

Other notable highlights from Lee’s Fiscal Year 23-24 agenda include:

• $150 million in annual tax relief for small businesses;

• $288 million for a one-time three-month sales tax holiday on food;

• $250 million into Tennessee’s record-high Rainy-Day Fund;

• Ensuring more than $2.8 billion of recurring revenue is allocated to one-time expenditures, allowing the return of these resources for review and budgeting next fiscal year;

• $1 billion for improving, expanding and building new Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCAT);

• $350 million in additional funding to local education agencies through Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement (TISA), including $125 million for teacher pay raises;

• $351 million to improve and create new state parks, trails and greenways;

• $80 million for environmental cleanup across the state;

• $33 million to add 100 highway patrol troopers, support staff and 25 Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Forensic Services staff;

• $30 million addition to the TN Law Enforcement Hiring, Training and Recruitment Program (Year 2);

• $50 million expansion of the Violent Crime Intervention Fund.

Tennessee’s Conservative Fiscal Management Results in $300M of Federal Funds to Extend TennCare

A major announcement made by Lee during the State of the State was that Tennessee has claimed initial returns from the first-of-its-kind TennCare Medicaid waiver agreement of more than $300 million.

These savings result from Tennessee’s conservative fiscal management and will be reinvested into TennCare to extend coverage to more citizens with no additional cost to taxpayers. Lee proposes to strengthen postpartum and infant care with the savings.

The historic Medicaid waiver agreement granted Tennessee more flexibility managing TennCare. The resulting new program, known as TennCare III, is the only federally-approved waiver of its kind.

In 2019 the General Assembly passed legislation, directing TennCare to negotiate with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to reach an agreement that would provide the state with more flexibility managing TennCare administration.

In 2021, following more than one year of discussions and negotiations, CMS approved Tennessee’s Medicaid Block Grant waiver amendment.

Tennessee has operated under TennCare III for two years. Since then, the state has made notable and unprecedented investments into TennCare, including:

• Providing a comprehensive dental benefit for adults for the first time in Tennessee history;

• Serving thousands of additional people with intellectual and developmental disabilities;

• Providing 12 months of postpartum coverage to mothers through a pilot program;

• Workforce investments in behavioral health, home and community-based care, and dental services; and

• Additional investments in public hospitals.

Lee proposes to use the shared savings to enhance benefits and serve 25,000 additional Tennesseans with a focus on babies, children, pregnant women and parents. These efforts include:

• Making our post-partum coverage extension for women on TennCare permanent;

• Expanding eligibility for pregnant women and providing lactation services and supports to new mothers;

• Expanding eligibility for parents and caretakers of children; and

• Providing one year of continuous enrollment for children.

In the coming weeks and months, the General Assembly will review Lee’s budget proposal and make its own budget recommendations, which will include ways to reinvest the shared savings from the Medicaid waiver.

Hensley may be reached at 425 Rep. John Lewis Way N., Suite 742, Nashville, TN 37243, at 615-741-3100, toll free at 1-800-449-8366 ext. 13100, by fax at 615-253-0231.

His district address is 855 Summertown Highway, Hohenwald, TN., 38462; by telehpne at 931-796-2018, by cell phone at 931-212-8823 or by email: sen.joey.hensley@capitol.tn.gov

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