By Tamas Mondovics
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced the Fiscal Year 2021-2022 budget has passed through the General Assembly. According to a recent release from the Governor’s office, the budget totals $42.6 billion and includes historic investments in literacy, mental health, broadband, and safety.
“I’m proud that this budget delivers on some of our top promises to Tennesseans and invests in external organizations meeting the needs of our local communities,” said Gov. Lee. “Thank you to the General Assembly for their steadfast commitment to our shared goals and establishing Tennessee as a fiscal leader across the nation.”
The budget includes investments in some of the state’s issues including: $100M to provide high speed broadband to every Tennessean; $250 investment in Mental Health Trust Fund; $79 million to eliminate the 11,400 person TCAT waiting list, and $145 million for air and rail transportation infrastructure.
The budget includes strategic investments in public-private partnerships, non-profit organizations, and external partners to support Tennesseans’ top priorities without growing government. For example, fighting human trafficking and supporting victims the budget includes $3.5M to End Slavery Tennessee; $1.2M to Her Song, a Ministry of the Tim Tebow Foundation; $600K to Tennessee Anti- Slavery Alliance.
Career & Technical Education: $1M to Associated Builders and Contractors Greater Tennessee Chapter; $150K to Center for Employment Opportunities; $40K to Flight Foundation; $700K to Niswonger Foundation, and $478K to Tennessee Builders Education Foundation. The budget is promising to return money to hardworking Tennesseans by including $50 million to provide a week-long sales tax holiday on groceries and prepared food. It does not add new debt and contains the highest reserves in history to prepare for uncertainty, bringing the Rainy-Day Fund to $1.55 billion, the release said.
Some key FY21-22 budget highlights include: $71M to fully fund the state share of the BEP for K-12 education; Four percent raise for teacher salaries; $100M to invest in the Rainy-Day Fund; $931M for capital maintenance and improvements; $5M for the Health Care Safety Net; $7M to extend postpartum care for the TennCare population to 12 months; $24M for Rural Opportunity Site Grants; $8M to expand marketing and tourism initiatives, and $37.9 million to fully fund TennCare growth, to name a few. The FY21-22 budget takes effect on July 1, 2021.