Gov. Bill Lee outlines $1B more for education in State of the State

As he enters the final year of his first term, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is moving forward. 

Lee struck a post-pandemic tone Monday night in his final State of the State address before facing voters for reelection, sidestepping mention of COVID-19 while proposing the state’s largest ever budget and “policies that reinforce freedom, innovation, exceptionalism and optimism.”

“‘Tennessee – America at Its Best’ embraces both sides of the coin: we acknowledge our shortcomings but build on our best,” Lee said, referencing the state slogan. “It reminds me of the truth in Scripture: Great faith is required to keep pushing for the things not yet seen. Today, our country faces challenges of a different kind, but I believe now more than ever, Tennessee embodies ‘America at Its Best.’”

Lee on Monday proposed a $52.5 billion fiscal 2023 spending plan, a nearly $10 billion increase thanks in part to an infusion of federal funds.

Gov. Bill Lee delivers his State of the State address on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022 in Nashville, Tenn.

A large portion of the budget and Lee’s legislative priorities will focus on K-12 education and a long-promised revamp of the Basic Education Program, the state’s current funding formula. 

Lee is seeking $1 billion for his education plan, including $750 million toward the new funding formula, the details of which have not yet been proposed for lawmakers.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s budget:Here’s what’s in the $52.5 billion proposal