Feb 7, 2023 - Politics

Tennessee governor releases budget priorities

Illustration of the Tennessee State Capitol building with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Gov. Bill Lee Monday announced a budget proposal driven by the state's dire infrastructure needs.

  • It follows months of promises to make roadwork a top priority during his second term.

Here are some of the big-ticket items Lee unveiled during his annual State of the State speech.

🚧 Road projects: Lee cited a whopping $26 billion backlog of road projects during his speech.

  • Much of the new investments in the 2023-24 budget proposal go toward that effort.
  • Lee wants $3 billion to support state road projects with an additional $300 million to help with local efforts.
  • The administration is also pursuing a plan to add new express toll lanes to some roads through partnerships with private companies in an effort to relieve traffic and defray costs in urban areas.

🔧 Technical colleges: Lee is proposing a historic $1 billion in capital funds for the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology.

  • The money would go toward creating six new TCAT campuses, expanding 16 existing ones and replacing seven outdated facilities.
  • The goal is to build a system that trains 10,000 new workers every year.

ğŸŽ Education: Lee wants to put an additional $350 million toward his new K-12 funding formula, including $125 million for teacher raises.

  • During his speech, Lee said he wanted to raise the minimum pay for teachers to $50,000 by the end of his term.

🥕 Grocery tax holiday: After cutting the tax for a month last year, Lee wants to eliminate it for three consecutive months in the next fiscal year.

☔️ Rainy day fund: Lee wants to add $250 million to the state's savings, which would bring the fund to $2.05 billion.

ğŸŽ­ TPAC: Lee's proposed budget includes a $200 million relocation grant for the Tennessee Performing Arts Center.

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