Tennessee lawmakers pass K-12 library oversight, end session

Tennessee State Capitol
Tennessee State Capitol(WSMV)
Published: Apr. 29, 2022 at 3:30 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee lawmakers have closed out the 2022 legislative session by passing a bill that lets a politically appointed panel remove books from public school libraries statewide through a new veto power over local school board decisions.

The Republican-supermajority Legislature also worked out remaining differences Thursday on an education funding formula overhaul spearheaded by Gov. Bill Lee.

“Tennessee is America at Its Best, and we’ve made strategic investments to cut taxes, strengthen infrastructure and invest in education at every level to prepare our state for future growth,” said Gov. Lee. “I thank Leader Johnson and Leader Lamberth for carrying key legislation, and commend the General Assembly for passing measures that will benefit Tennesseans and continue our state’s reputation for conservative fiscal management.”

They passed tougher campaign finance and ethics rules amid a federal investigation that has already seen one House Republican plead guilty and resign. Those proposals and many more will head to the Republican governor, who has never vetoed a bill. The election-year session began in January.

Some of the highlights from Gov. Lee’s agenda include:

K-12 Education

  • $1 billion investment in new, annual recurring education funding
  • Through the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement (TISA), replaced the 30-year-old BEP funding formula with a student-centered approach to public education
  • $500 million to make CTE improvements in all middle and high schools
  • Ensures parents know what materials are available to students in their libraries
  • Makes computer science and coding available to every high school student in Tennessee
  • $124.7 million to provide a well-deserved increase into the teacher salary pool
  • $16 million recurring and $16 million nonrecurring to the Charter Schools Facility Fund to support the operation of high-quality charter schools

Higher Education

  • $88.6 million in dedicated lottery funds to increase the 4-year HOPE Award to $4,500—5,700 per student, per year, and the 2-year HOPE Award to $3,200 per student, per year
  • $90 million to fully fund the higher education outcomes-based formula
  • $200 million for TCAT infrastructure investments to help double the skilled workforce by 2026
  • $6 million to establish the Institute of American Civics at the University of Tennessee

Safe and Secure Tennessee

  • Adds 100 Highway Patrol Troopers 100% funded by the state
  • Creation of a Multi-Agency Law Enforcement Training Academy
  • Creation of a $100 million Violent Crime Intervention Fund for law enforcement agencies across the state to invest in evidence-based programming and resources
  • Expansion of state funding for law enforcement basic training and increasing the frequency of training for new recruits
  • Directs the Department of Safety and Homeland Security to create a plan so every house of worship in Tennessee can receive high-quality safety training
  • Strengthens laws around human trafficking

Supporting Tennessee Families

  • Expanding funding for relative caregiver placements for children in foster care
  • Establishing a childcare support program for all foster families, regardless of their DHS eligibility
  • Expanding TennCare’s Health Starts Initiative to support maternal health and holistic care for mothers and children

Modernizing Tennessee Infrastructure

  • Additional $100 million for the IMPROVE Act to ensure progress on key projects
  • $519 million toward road infrastructure projects to support economic development projects, as well as mobility in our fastest-growing counties.

Good Government

  • Rainy-Day Fund increased to $1.8 billion, up from $1.55 billion
  • 30-day suspension of state and local grocery sales tax to provide direct financial relief to Tennesseans
  • Cuts CDL licensing red tape to ease supply chain and transportation challenges

Rural Tennessee

  • $83 million to reimburse public hospitals for uncompensated care, primarily in rural communities
  • $55 million to increase access to home and community-based services via the Medicaid Pathways to Independence program

Healthy Tennessee

  • $25.5 million to provide adult dental benefits for 610,000 Tennesseans eligible for TennCare
  • $11.8 million toward a multiyear commitment to recruit and retain dental providers, as well as provide much-needed dental care for prosthodontic services
  • $10 million toward the goal of attracting over 150 new primary care residents
  • $7 million for substance abuse clinical treatment and addiction recovery programs

Beautiful Tennessee

  • $40 million to invest in environmental cleanup, including National Priority List sites
  • $28 million to eliminate the deferred maintenance backlog at State Parks
  • $25 million for West TN River Basin projects

Asset Management

  • $2.541 billion for higher education and general government capital improvements over the next several years
  • $214.8 million for capital maintenance, ensuring deferred maintenance is addressed within current capital assets

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