The 108th General Assembly adjourned last week. While it could have been worse, it's clear that the misplaced priorities of the legislature are bad for Tennessee.
Too often, time and attention were focused on ideologically charged bills like guns in parks, open-carry, private school vouchers, and even a resolution to invite Sean Hannity to Tennessee. Promises were broken to provide small, cost-of-living raises to teachers and state employees, and the legislature failed to do the right thing on Medicaid expansion.
But there was some good news. Common sense prevailed to beat back some of the most extreme proposals. And where legislators were willing to put politics aside and work across the aisle, the legislature managed to enact laws to increase access to affordable higher education, provide stronger protections for survivors of domestic violence, and create new opportunities for non-profits to partner with neighborhood schools.
With your help, I'll be in the State Senate when the 109th General Assembly convenes for its next session in January 2015. And there's so much work that has to be done.
- Next session, the legislature must wake up to the reality that expanding Medicaid is necessary to protect against the elimination of jobs, the closure of hospitals, the loss of $2 billion dollars from our economy, and keeping hundreds of thousands needlessly uninsured.
- Next session, if Gov. Haslam is going to keep his promise to make Tennessee the fastest improving state for teacher salaries, the legislature will have to make it a real priority.
- Next session, we will have to continue fighting against Tea Party extremism and the legislature's unprecedented interference with local governments.
- Next session, we must start getting serious about early childhood education.
In a state that's ranked near the bottom on so many health, economic, and educational measures, there are real opportunities to get things done. But that's going to take new leadership. It’s going to take building coalitions of common-sense people that are focused on Tennessee’s future. It’s going to take us getting more involved.
That's what our campaign is all about, and that's why we need your help in the months leading up to the August 7 primary election and November 4 general election.