by Mary Mancini
Hours before Governor Lee’s State of the State address, TNHoller produced a video outlining the reality of the state of Tennessee, including some heart wrenching statistics. Watch it now to learn the truth about our state. Tennessee is:
- 39th in Median Household Income
- 47th in Small Business Ownership
- 41st in Poverty
- 37th for Children Living in Poverty
- 1st in Minimum Wage Jobs
But you wouldn’t know it listening to Governor Bill Lee.
The speech was insulting to struggling Tennesseans and was filled with big promises – slight increases in funding for education, teacher pay, and mental health services – that have already been broken.
EDUCATION: Less than 12 hours after the speech, Governor Lee’s staff backtracked and said they couldn’t promise the $117 Million would translate to larger teacher paychecks. And even if teachers did see an increase in pay, it would be less than what was promised (approximately $28 more per paycheck) and hardly enough to cover what they are already paying out-of-pocket for state mandated supplies and materials.MENTAL HEALTH: Lee also promised to invest $250 Million in mental health, yet his staff clarified that the money will actually go to a Wall Street fund and will reach patients ONLY IF the investment turns a profit in coming years. Families struggling with mental health issues need direct investment in mental health services today, not if and when a gamble with our tax dollars pays off.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM: Governor Lee also announced a “criminal justice reform plan” that focused on increasing punishments, but does nothing to address inequity in the system or invest in successful community prevention and re-entry programs.
Republican at the state legislature copied Lee’s theme of broken promises and harmful policy decisions throughout the rest of the week by defending the treasonous actions of a confederate racist, refusing to invest in the care of hungry school children, and pushing for more guns on public university and college campuses. And then we had to listen to it all again from Washington the next night!
TRUMP’S IMPACT ON TENNESSEE: Donald Trump delivered a heavily partisan speech during the State of the Union on Tuesday night and, like Governor Lee the night before, did so while ignoring the harm and destruction of his policies on Tennesseans. Here are a few:
- Trump trade policies have all but wiped out Tennessee soybean farmers, who were sending 60% of their crops to China Tennessee Farmer bankruptcies are up 29%
- Medically uninsured children jumped up 18%
- Job growth has slowed dramatically, and 2019 was the slowest year for job growth since 2011 The national deficit for FY 2019 reached nearly $1 trillion, almost double what it was when President Obama left office
- For the first time in decades, corporations paid a lower tax rate in 2018 than most Tennessee families
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again – we’re on the ground every day to help elect leaders who will support our children, our students, and our families with smart and effective policies that will improve lives. Join us by joining your Democratic County Party, a TNDP Caucus, or a Democratic candidate’s campaign of your choice.
Together we can make Tennessee a better place for all who live and work here.
– Mary Mancini
Chair, Tennessee Democratic Party