By State Senator Page Walley
Our 113th General Assembly wrapped up its business for the 2023 legislative session on Friday, April 21 and adjourned for the year. The session was highlighted by a record investment in school safety, major tax relief for small businesses and families, and new plans to improve transportation and infrastructure across the state. Lawmakers also fulfilled the General Assembly’s constitutional duty with the passage of a balanced $56.2 billion budget for 2023-24 fiscal year.
The zero-debt budget is a spending plan that addresses the needs of all Tennesseans while advancing efforts to strengthen families, bolster safety, improve education, create new opportunities for economic development and modernize transportation.
The slate of budget and legislative priorities includes significant investments in school safety with $223 million to provide a school resource officer for every public school and a Homeland Security agent for every county. These funds will also provide safety grants for private schools.
We made key investments in transportation and infrastructure by providing $3.3 billion to alleviate urban traffic congestion and improve rural roads to support economic growth and development.
This budget reaffirms Tennessee’s commitment to strong conservative fiscal management and low taxes. It makes one of the largest tax cuts in Tennessee history for businesses and families, while setting aside $250 million for our rainy-day fund. We are providing grants to rural and distressed hospitals taking care of vulnerable populations throughout the state.
Notably, the budget provides a $407-million cut in taxes, the largest in Tennessee’s history. These cuts aim to lower the tax burden on businesses, boost Tennessee’s economic competitiveness, promote entrepreneurship and small businesses. It provides targeted relief to families with a three-month-long tax break on groceries from Aug. 1-Oct. 31.
It also makes a $250 million deposit in the state’s Rainy-Day Fund, which serves as the state’s savings account to help withstand economic downturns, bringing the fund to a historic balance of more than $2 billion.
We remain committed to keeping taxes low. Tennessee is the second-lowest taxed state in the nation and collects zero income tax. Tennessee holds the highest bond rating issued by all three of the nation’s credit rating agencies, which reflects extreme confidence in the Volunteer State’s preparedness in meeting financial commitments in tough economic times.
Key highlights of the 2023 General Assembly include:
Invested $223 million to improve school safety, including $140 million to put a School Resource Officer (SRO) in every public school
Improves safety standards and protocols at public and private schools in Tennessee
Increased requirements and accountability for good behavior sentence reduction credits
Protected the 2nd Amendment
Added over 140 positions to the Tennessee Highway Patrol
Strengthened protections for pregnant women and the unborn
Provided 6-weeks of paid leave for state employees and teacher following the birth or adoption of a child
Extended TennCare coverage for mothers to 12 months postpartum
Transportation and Infrastructure
Invested $3B to the Transportation Modernization Fund to alleviate urban congestion and fund rural road projects across the state
Provided $300M to expand the State Aid Program for local road projects
Created a new strategy to address traffic congestion and accommodate Tennessee’s record growth and meet transportation needs
Provided over $400 million in tax relief to boost economic competitiveness, promote entrepreneurship and small business formation, and provide targeting relief to families
Fully funded Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology Masterplan to upgrade and expand to TCATs across the state
Increased pay for providers serving vulnerable citizens
Invested in rural and distressed hospitals
Increased resources to the Department of Children’s Services
Protected children from being exposed to sexually explicit adult entertainment
Prevented harmful and irreversible medical procedures from being performed on minors
In the coming weeks, I’ll be both writing and touring the district to inform citizens more about what was achieved during this session. In the meantime, if you have any questions please contact my office at 615-741-2368 or email@example.com.