Crissy and I hope you enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday and had the chance to recharge and spend time with your family and friends.
At the state level, our budget hearings had us looking ahead to the next fiscal year, but the holidays allow us to look back at what we’re thankful for.
It’s at this point in time every year that I’m thankful for the Tennessee tradition of fiscal responsibility and a balanced budget.
I believe this year will perhaps be our most difficult budget of the administration to date.
Revenues are down, leaving most discretionary dollars taken up by funding the formula increases of the BEP and TennCare (and that’s without an expansion of Medicaid services).
Finance and Administration Commissioner Larry Martin asked the commissioners to go through the exercise of identifying what 5 percent reductions in their departments would look like.
We ask departments to do this not because we’ll take an across-the-board reduction, but because, like we have done every year, we’ll take a thoughtful and comprehensive approach to budgeting and managing our state conservatively.
One of the reasons being efficient and effective with your tax dollars is so critical is that saving in one area allows us to maintain important services in another.
One example is our desire to build on our momentum in education. Teachers are the single most important factor in student achievement, and higher accountability for teachers and proven results should be met with better rewards.
Taking another step toward making Tennessee the fastest improving state for teachers’ salaries will be a budget priority this year.
Our budget hearings are archived here for on-demand playback, and watching them is a great way to learn more about your state government.
Crissy and I also want to encourage you to visit the Tennessee Residence for the “Home for the Holidays” open house event. We firmly believe that this house we’re so honored to live in is not our house but yours.
We invite you to register for a free tour and come see the house decorated for the holidays. In the last two years, nearly 10,000 visitors have participated, and this year’s theme, “Tennessee Legends,” highlights influential people, places and events throughout our state’s history to help tell the story of our rich heritage.
We hope to see you again soon,
Bill Haslam is governor of Tennessee. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.