Sen. John Stevens gives update on state budget

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State Senator John Stevens spoke during the Chamber of Commerce’s sponsored Capitol Talk Friday concerning the state budget which is $40.8 billion this year.

He is in his eighth year of serving in the legislature and represents Obion, Weakley, Henry, Gibson, Carroll and Benton Counties. He is chairman of the Appropriations Sub-Committee of the Finance Ways and Means Committee.

He said in 2010 the Gross Domestic Product showed a percentage rate of 12.6 percent and in 2018 was down to 11.6 percent.

Sen. John Stevens speaks at the
Carroll Co. Chamber of Commerce

“We have shrunk government by 1.5 percent,” he said. “Tennessee has the 19th largest economy in the United Sates.”

The economy has increased by over $100 billion from 2010 to 2018 from $255 billion to $364 billion. Poverty has decreased.

Education funding has increased from $7.849 billion to $9.487 billion.

“Every extra dollar in revenue is put back in education,” said Stevens.

The projected growth for the 2021 budget is 3.7 percent.

He said there had been a $91 million reduction cut in efficiency in providing services.

Stevens said he and House Representatives Curtis Halford and Andy Holt secured a $5 million grant for Bethel University’s teaching program in the last budget.

Because of state funding, local school boards have the authority to give 4 percent raises to teachers.

There is a $250 million trust fund for mental health initiatives. Some of the money designated for schools will be used to assess the needs of students in order to try and curb suicide increases.

Criminal justice reform that will provide job assistance to inmates leaving prisons is a part of the legislature agenda this year. Legislation which Stevens is carrying will help inmates transition to the outside world.

The state is committed to the megasite at Brownsville and the project is completed, according to Stevens. The next step is to hire a consultant to bring a mega industry to the site.

The governor will give $100 million in direct grants to towns. Carroll County will receive $350,000.

Carroll Academy will receive $414,300 for one year.

The next Capitol Talk session will be March 13 with Rep. Andy Holt speaking.

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