Gov. Bill Lee calls Tennessee "America at its best"
Gov. Bill Lee called Tennessee a "beacon to the rest of the country" in his State of the State address last night, saying the state is an example "for how we can change lives when we control the size of government, prioritize efficiency."
Why it matters: The speech seemed to double as a campaign kickoff — Lee is heavily favored to win reelection in November — or perhaps the foundation for a swing at higher office.
State of play: Lee touted how a California couple who served for 30 years in the San Francisco Police Department relocated to Tennessee "in search of more freedom."
- His administration has been recruiting law enforcement officers subject to vaccine mandates to come work in Tennessee, where such requirements have been outlawed.
- Lee also highlighted how he has proposed and supported "some of the soundest pro-life legislation in the country."
- The governor barely alluded to the ongoing pandemic aside from thanking nurses and health care workers.
What he's saying: Juxtaposing Tennessee's financial situation to the $29 trillion national debt, Lee said, "While some are forecasting a recession, we remain prepared with a healthy savings account and minimal liabilities."
- Lee's proposed budget increases the state's rainy day fund to $1.6 billion.
The other side: Democrats were quick to bash Lee's speech for failing to address top problems facing the state - poverty, the closure of rural hospitals, medical bankruptcies, and inadequate education funding.
- "He's so focused on trying to create Presidential buzz for himself that he hasn't realized that his entire tenure has been Tennessee at its bare minimum," Tennessee Democratic Party chairperson Hendrell Remus tweeted.
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