By SEN. MAE BEAVERS
and REP. MARK PODY
In 2010, Tennesseans went to the voting booths and elected the first Republican majority in both the House and Senate for the first time in state history. Since then, this majority has grown into a supermajority -- a responsibility the GOP does not take for granted.
As surveys consistently show, the conservative policies demanded by voters in 2010 are the same policies that a majority of Tennesseans still demand today. Things like limiting the size of government, cutting taxes for all, and creating an environment where businesses can grow and expand -- these are the type of core values and principles the Republican-led legislature strives for every single day.
Tennessee is one of the most fiscally conservative states in the nation, with low taxes, very little debt, and a balanced budget each and every year. Because of this, our state has done an excellent job of attracting new businesses and inspiring local entrepreneurs. Unlike Washington, D.C., I have seen the General Assembly come together over the last several years to craft fiscally responsible budgets while still cutting taxes and setting aside money for future generations -- this year alone, we added $73 million to our state's Rainy Day Fund in preparation for what tomorrow might hold.
While politicians in Washington and around the country continue their partisan bickering and policies of reckless spending, we are working together here in Tennessee to lower your taxes, decrease the size of government, and pass commonsense reforms that make it as easy as possible to start and operate a business in Tennessee. Over the last several years, we have eliminated the death and gift taxes and rolled back the tax on food multiple times. We have lowered the Hall tax, which unfairly affects our seniors, many of which are living on a fixed income. We have also extended property tax relief for our older generation, the disabled, and Tennessee veterans. This is in addition to the record investment in our children's K-12 education this year -- $150 million more than has ever been allocated in state history.
Since taking over the majority, we have worked hard to lay the groundwork that has led to Tennessee recently being named State of the Year for the second time in a row. Just this week, our state was named number one in the nation for automotive manufacturing strength and education. From businesses looking to relocate here to our own homegrown entrepreneurs launching new ventures, Tennessee's jobless rate has dropped to the lowest it has been in over 7 years. Since Republicans took control, nearly 225,000 new private sector jobs have been created and our state has even been named the number one place in the U.S. to retire.
Great things are happening in Tennessee, but this certainly does not mean we will not face challenges in the future. However, when these challenges arise, we give you our word to always face them head on and without looking back to an era of failed liberal policies.
The poet Walt Whitman once wrote: "The genius of the United States is not best found in executives or legislatures, nor even in its newspapers or inventors, but always found in the common man." Your thoughts, your suggestions, your opinions, and your input are the driving force behind every decision we make in Nashville, and for this, we thank you.
As the 2016 legislative session draws near, we look forward to once again following your instructions as we move full steam ahead with the shared conservative vision for Tennessee that you demand.