Education, justice reform and healthcare dominate State of the State speech
NASHVILLE, Tenn (OSBORNE) -- Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is offering some hard numbers to go along with his policy proposals for the year.
During his first State of the State speech to lawmakers Monday night, Lee proposed an 11 percent increase in spending for the budget year that begins in July.
Education dominated Lee’s presentation. The governor prop osed $25 million new dollars for vocational education, $35 million for higher education, $12 million for student financial aid, $30 million for school safety and $71 million to fund a 2.5 percent pay raise for teachers.
Lee also proposed a student school voucher program and a greater emphasis on charter schools.
“In my budget we’re doubling the amount of public charter school facility funding, and I will support legislation this year that makes it easier to open good charter schools, and easier to close bad ones.”
Beyond education, Lee also emphasized criminal justice reform. The governor proposed educational opportunities for inmates, higher pay for corrections officers, and community supervision rather than incarceration for low-risk, non-violent offenders.
Lee also announced the launch of a mentorship program designed to reduce Tennessee’s high rate of inmate recidivism.
“Tonight, I’m proud to announce that we’re launching the Volunteer Mentorship Initiative to equip Tennesseans all across our state to mentor fellow Tennesseans who are currently in prison, and I’m signing up tonight as the first volunteer.”
Gov. Lee also offered up new health care initiatives for the coming year, including new money for mental health services and suicide prevention.
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