Teacher raises, tax cuts, Titans dome are in Tennessee’s $53 billion budget. Here’s some of what didn’t make the cut.
After months of crunching numbers and picking which projects to fund Tennessee’s General Assembly has approved a $52.8 billion budget.
It includes money for a new Titans stadium, close to $300 million in tax cuts and $125 million for public school teacher raises, plus adds $250 million to the state’s rainy-day fund. But some items from the governor’s wish list didn’t make the cut.
Gov. Bill Lee had asked that Juneteenth be made a paid holiday, but the $8 million needed to make it happen was not included in the budget. This was expected, because lawmakers had already shot the idea down in committee.
But Democratic Representative Vincent Dixie thought it sent a message to not honor the commemoration of the emancipation of enslaved African Americans.
“It signals to the actual atmosphere that we deal with in this General Assembly, that you cannot introduce bills that have certain words in them, or that affect a certain class of people or certain genre of people,” said Dixie. “If it has the word ‘Black,’ or ‘gay’ or certain type of equity or diversity, those bills are non-starters here.”
Another project that didn’t make the cut was the governor’s plan to relocate 14 schools that are in flood plains. The idea came up after the Waverly flood ripped through an elementary school. The governor had requested $200 million to move thousands of kids, including in the Sumner, Smith and Williamson County school districts, into newly built classrooms in neighborhoods with a lower risk of flooding.
Instead, lawmakers voted to add $250 million to the state’s rainy day fund. Tennessee will now have the largest rainy day fund in its history, at $1.8 billion.
The budget is now one signature away from being made final, although Lee could allow it to go into effect without his approval.