Earlier this month, the 107th General Assembly adjourned, and I’m extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished working together. Since unveiling a comprehensive legislative agenda in early January, our administration has focused on key reforms that lower taxes, continue improvement of our state’s education system and enable us to recruit, retain and reward the best and brightest state employees.
Over the past several months we’ve worked to:
• Reform of the state’s outdated employment system;
• Lower the inheritance tax and the state’s portion of the sales tax on food;
• Completely rewrite Tennessee’s school accountability system to complement Tennessee's waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law;
• Expand the FastTrack grant program specifically to assist in recruiting investment to rural communities;
• Improve public safety through measures that include combating prescription drug abuse, mandatory sentencing for repeat domestic violence offenders, and tougher sentencing for certain gang-related crimes and gun possession by those with prior felonies;
• Reform of the state’s boards and commissions to improve efficiency and accountability for those organizations.
In addition to these initiatives that were all approved by the General Assembly, the legislature also passed a responsible and balanced budget that reflects our administration’s blueprint to make strategic investments, to make thoughtful reductions and that includes savings for the future.
Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and House Speaker Beth Harwell were committed to making this year’s legislative session efficient and effective. It is great working with both of them. I appreciate their leadership and congratulate them for adjourning earlier this year than any General Assembly has since 1998. That is what Tennessee taxpayers expect of us – to get our work done at the lowest cost and in an efficient and effective way.
Over the next several months, we will continue to focus on improving the way we provide services to Tennesseans. Just this week, we launched the new TN.gov - it's more user-friendly and just a first step in improving the state's online services.
Our customer-focused government team is also hard at work. Since the release of our administration’s Top to Bottom Review of each state department, this group has focused on implementing a number of those changes and identifying new ways to streamline government and to improve service.
As always, I’m interested in hearing your feedback on the things we’re working on – whether it’s the progress we made this legislative session, the new TN.gov, or maybe you have an idea for improving government that you’d like to share. You can always contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.