Tennessee is losing out on $1.4 billion a year of federal funding by not expanding Medicaid. I have been advocating in favor of Medicaid expansion since day one. There is a direct correlation between not passing Medicaid expansion and rural hospital closures. Our state has the highest number of hospital closures in the country. This is a result of not expanding Medicaid. On a related topic, if we are going to tackle the opioid crisis and mental health in an effective manner, expanding Medicaid has to be part of our plan.
Investing in education needs to be a priority. Our district has some of the best schools in the state, but we also have schools that are under-performing. It is vital that our state increase funding for education and work towards funding equity across our school board districts. Currently, teachers, on average, spend $600 of their own money to bridge the gap between funding and their classroom necessities. We can’t adequately fund education with deep state and municipal revenue cuts. If the cuts in Hall tax revenue continue, we will see a significant increase in our property taxes or a profound decline in education funding. In a county like Shelby County, it is critical that we tackle the leading underlying cause of crime and poverty, which is access to a high quality education.
I support the second amendment, but I believe that we can come up with common-sense solutions to prevent gun violence and increase our safety and the safety of our children. The highest in priority and effectiveness would be passing a bill that requires comprehensive background checks and a 3-day waiting period for every gun purchase.
We need to increase funding for the Tennessee highway and bridge capital fund. Improving our highways would help us create jobs and promote tourism – both of which increase our states’ sales tax revenue. Improving our highway system would also strengthen the agriculture industry across Tennessee.