Throughout 2011, lawmakers met with business leaders and concerned citizens about ways to remove government hurdles to economic growth in the state. House Majority Leader Rep. Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, appointed a task force to hold hearings on the issue.
When asked about the expected priorities of the General Assembly, Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville, stated in an interview last week, “I think you will find this General Assembly will be one of the most business-friendly there has ever been for the business community.” He continued, “Additionally, we have a pro-business governor leading us who has proposed a number of innovative ideas to encourage growth in the private sector. Together, we are putting the No. 1 priority for Tennesseans — job growth — at the top of our list.”
As representative for the 24th Legislative District, I believe this General Assembly must do more to lessen and relieve government regulations so that Tennessee businesses can thrive. More needs to be done to ensure that government’s intervention is limited on business and business owners. We must create the environment in Tennessee where both new jobs and exiting industries can grow.
Haslam will give his annual “State of the State” address on Monday evening, Jan. 30, to a Joint Session of the General Assembly. The governor is expected to unveil his budget proposals and provide full details of his legislative priorities to move Tennessee forward.
State Comptroller Justin Wilson has advised Tennessee’s finances are sound. Saying Tennessee is in “sound fiscal condition, he appeared before the House Finance Committee last week. The comptroller delivered his “State of Fiscal Affairs” report to legislative leaders in the House of Representatives.
Wilson went through a number of items that are solvent and secure in Tennessee’s financial portfolio such as the overall budget, current state of the debt, retirement fund and the trust fund.
Wilson cited the “willingness of the General Assembly to enact budgets that have forgone, reduced or eliminated expenses and services,” as another reason for Tennessee’s stable financial standing.
Wilson said the General Assembly must continue to reduce expenses and the administration should increase the efficiency of state government operations in anticipation of the tough financial challenges Tennessee is likely to face in the future.
Future financial challenges cited in the comptroller’s report to the committee include:
- Continuing to reduce expenses and create efficiencies;
- Funding increases already projected and planning for federal mandates;
- Making capital improvements and rebuilding the state’s reserves;
- Maintaining strong credit ratings and a manageable state debt; and
- Improving financial reporting.
(Editor’s Note: State Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, represents the 24th Legislative District in Cleveland and Bradley County. Brooks and his wife, Kim, are actively involved in the Cleveland area community and in local schools where their two children attend. Zach attends Lee University and Elizabeth attends Cleveland High School.)