Congressman David Kustoff remarked, as he introduced Governor Bill Lee, that his election was “the first time a Republican succeeded a Republican in a long time.”
Lee’s election last year helped cement the deep Republican values of our state. Values, Lee reminded us, such as being able “to live within your means, with minimum debt and to prepare for bad days.” He said that Tennessee is “in a strong fiscal conservative position that led U.S. News and World Report to call us the ‘best fiscally managed state in America.’
“When this wonderful economy begins to slow down — and I don’t when that’s going to happen but it’s going to happen, and it will probably happen during my tenure – I wants us to be prepared for the day the national economy begins to turn,” he said. “Because of that, we decided to make the largest investment in the rainy day fund in the state’s history and push it beyond $1 billion.
“Low taxes, low spending allow you to invest in what matters.” One of the things that matters most to Lee is pushing vocational education and STEM education in middle schools. He wants to triple funds by 2022.
“We are a group of people who want to reach and serve and think of and live for an environment that impacts the least of these every single person in every corner of this state,” he said. “That’s what the Republican Party is and that’s what conservative values are.”
To Lee, being governor gives him the chance to “be able to do things you’ve carried around in your heart.” One of these is part of the prison ministry he has done as a mentor.
“I want the criminal justice system to be swift and severe for bad crimes,” Lee said. “We recognize that 95% of prisoners will come out of jail. Half will commit a crime and return. But in ministering to them and giving them more education, there is a 40% less chance that they will return.”
The governor noted that one of his first acts when he came into office was to fulfill a promise to rural Tennesseans. “My first executive order required all state executive departments to issue a statement of rural impact and provide recommendations for better serving rural Tennessee.”
In addition, Lee has his eyes on the health care problem. He said his goal in health care reform is a 20-year plan that will bring down the cost of health care through a waiver for federal block grant funding.
“I want better access to health care for all. We’re working on a plan that will be the envy of other states. Tennessee has a tremendous opportunity to lead in this country and my intent is for Tennessee to lead the way for the nation.”