Haslam to focus on taxes, education, jobs and Medicaid in speech

Haslam to focus on taxes, education, jobs, and Medicaid in State of the State address

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By GENE PATTERSON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

NASHVILLE (WATE) - In offering a preview of his State of the State Address, Governor Bill Haslam told reporters Monday morning that Tennessee is "well positioned" as it comes out of "the worst recession the country has ever seen." 

"I think we showed some wise fiscal restraint last year in not spending revenues ahead of expectations last year," Gov. Haslam said.

In his third address as governor, Haslam will point to his administration's efforts to reduce taxes, specifically the sales tax on food and increasing exemptions for those who are subject to the Halls Income Tax. 

State Sen. Becky Duncan Massey says lowering taxes is want Tennesseans want to hear.  

"In addition to lowering taxes, the governor will talk education initiatives," she said Monday afternoon. 

Mr. Haslam will point to his continuing effort to reform education and to fully funding the state's Better Education Plan. 

He'll also talk about the state's low unemployment rate and how he'll fund efforts to attract new industries and jobs.  

State Rep. Ryan Haynes says keeping the focus on jobs is the right direction. 

"Keeping regulations off businesses and keeping taxes low will drive economic growth," said Haynes. 

Another phrase that Tennesseans will hear in the governor's speech is "customer-focused."

Gov. Haslam will use that line to emphasize the administration's work in bringing business practices to government. 

As for specifics in the budget, revenues are up, but much of the new dollars are being eaten up by increases in Tenncare. 

Local lawmakers say the governor will talk about Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, but will not announce the state's decision on opting in or not. 

Gloria Johnson, one of only two Democrats in the Knox County delegation, says her constituents are eager to hear about Medicaid expansion. 

"It's important to the people in my district."
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