Gov. Lee to deliver second ‘State of the State’ address before lawmakers

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Lee on Monday will unveil his top priorities for the 2020 legislative session, as well announce as his spending proposal for the upcoming fiscal year during his second annual address in front of Tennessee’s lawmakers.

Lee, a Republican, has hinted that his speech will include a focus on school literacy to criminal justice reform.

The first-term governor has also promised to introduce some of the strictest abortion laws the nation, which would include banning women from undergoing the procedure once a fetal heartbeat is detected.

In an election year where many of the state lawmakers will be on the ballot, the governor’s anticipated abortion bans are expected to pass in the GOP-dominant Legislature. However the legislation — which has not yet been finalized — is also expected to be challenged in court.

The state of the state speech will begin at 6 p.m. Central and will be live streamed.

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Excerpts from the governor’s speech were released early Monday morning:

Economy:

“In 2019, we were for the first time named the #1 best fiscally managed state in the country. We’ve been named as the best business climate in the country. We’re #1 in the U.S. for advanced industry job growth and the best state for small business growth. In the past year, this state has garnered 108 project commitments to create 16,500 jobs and $3.6 billion of capital investment in Tennessee. And while we still have more work to do on rural economic development, I’m also proud that more than half of these projects have been announced in rural counties.”

Education:

“Make no mistake: we will do whatever it takes to make Tennessee the best state in America to be a student, and that means making Tennessee the best state in America to be a teacher. That means better pay, as we’ve said, but it also means better training and professional support, so that our teachers can perform at the top of their trade.”

“Literacy is the foundation for a student’s educational journey. And if we can’t get early childhood literacy back on track, our other investments and work in education will always be limited.”

“No teacher I know does it only for the money, but you and I know a worker is worthy of their pay. Teaching is a calling. We know it is passion that brings teachers to the classroom, but we also know our teachers deserve to be paid more for the important work they do.”

“To me, education isn’t just about a test score. Assessments are valuable tools, but if the adults in education are doing their job correctly, they won’t just see academic statistics improve, they’ll see the most important stat of all improve: That our students are prepared to become productive members of society, whether that’s entering the workforce, attending college, or earning a high-quality industry credential.”

Criminal Justice Reform:

“We’re making these investments because, as our state’s elected leaders, we must remain aware of serving every part and every person of our state. That’s why I’ve made criminal justice reform such a large priority, because every person in Tennessee wants and deserves to live in a safe neighborhood. When properly implemented, criminal justice reforms save taxpayer dollars, shrink the size of government, properly punish wrongdoers, and make our communities safer.”

In addition to Monday’s event, Lee has scheduled similar addresses as part of a campaign promise to not stay Nashville-focused as governor. Lee will deliver a speech in Johnson City on Feb. 6 and another in Jackson on Feb. 13.

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