TOP PHOTO: Sen. Ken Yager and State Rep. Dennis Powers (left) were Tuesday’s special guest speakers at the South Campbell County Rotary Club luncheon.
By Charlotte Underwood
LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – Sen. Ken Yager and State Rep. Dennis Powers were Tuesday’s special guest speakers at the South Campbell County Rotary Club luncheon.
The legislative officials gave budget updates for the state.
Powers went over the budget highlights, including the state’s $56.2 billion dollar budget, which includes $407 million in tax cuts, $1 billion for Tennessee College of Applied Technology schools and $204 million in additional school safety.
Yager spoke about the transportation budget, reporting that $3 billion is going for the transportation modernization in the state and $6 billion in total TDOT funding.
“I’m particularly pleased with Gov. Bill Lee’s emphasis on rural roads in this state, we have $3 million more coming to Campbell County in state aid funds,” Yager said.
There will be $300 million total for state aid funds for transportation.
Yager also gave a brief overview of tax cut budget highlights. There has been $124 million in business tax cuts.
He spoke about the tax exemption increase for small businesses to “help those businesses out.”
“We’re giving small businesses a break; the sales tax exemption has been expanded to three months as well,” Yager said.
Powers spoke about additional funds going for school safety.
These budget numbers include $140 million to fund SROs at every public school.
“We’re going to make sure every school has an armed SRO officer in every school,” Powers said.
Other funding in the state will include $40 million for safety grants, $28 million in Homeland Security Officers, $14 million for private schools and $8 million in behavioral health liason grants.
“We’ve never had enough behavioral health liasons; this is exciting. These folks are going to get out in the schools and identify those who have a need,” Yager said.
“We are going to make sure these schools are protected,” Powers added.
The state has earmarked funds for Park and Recreation; this includes $329 million for state parks and forests, including four new state parks. There will be $41 million for Tennessee Trails and Greenways and $82 million for statewide environmental cleanup.
Powers discussed funds going to law and order. This includes $50 million for the violent crime intervention program. $39 million in THP salary adjustments and more.
Yager gave an update on the education budget as well.
According to Yager, this year’s budget has record appropriations for education.
This includes $1billion for maintenance and development of TCATs, and $125 million in teacher raises across Tennessee.
He said the state was working towards increasing the salary for educators.
“Every teacher by 2027 will have a minimum salary of $50,000. That will help us attract and retain teachers,” Yager said.
A total of $7.6 million is going for tutoring for retained K-3 students.
“They are trying to catch them early to help these students be up to standard. It’s a statewide problem,” Powers said.
Other education budget numbers include $21 million for expansion of summer learning camps, $10 million for transportation grants for summer camps, $18 million for pre-k special education and $15 million to maintain local budget levels to fund six weeks of paid family leave for teachers. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 05/24/2023-6AM)