In the weeks ahead, my colleagues and I will focus on creating a fiscally responsible budget that addresses the unique needs of all citizens and one that enhances our recent economic standing. As part of our proposed budget this year, we will look to implement additional reductions in the professional privilege tax so we can build upon the $22 million we eliminated in this burdensome tax penalty on Tennessee workers last year.
The Fiscal Year 2020-2021 budget also focuses on rural Tennessee through the reinvestment of more than $100 million into cities and counties. Additionally, the proposal helps launch ApprenticeshipTN, a program that will empower more Tennesseans to re-enter the workforce by utilizing apprenticeship opportunities.
A $25 million investment to increase broadband accessibility, as well as $20 million in funding for the Rural Opportunity Fund to support site development, main-street development, and critical infrastructure assistance will enable communities in all three grand divisions to have the resources they need to attract new businesses and create jobs.
We will also renew our commitment to Tennessee farmers and agriculture industry professionals by growing the Agriculture Enhancement Program through a $7 million investment. This program was established in 2005 to provide cost share dollars to our agriculture producers so they make long-term investments in both our Tennessee farms and our rural communities.
Finally, we will allocate $2.4 million to strengthen the Department of Tourism’s Office of Rural Tourism. Just two years ago, tourism generated over $50 million in new state and local tax dollars for our statewide economy — $25 million of which supports public education in this state.
These types of investments, combined with the elimination of job-killing regulations, and historic tax cuts — to the tune of $645 million over the last nine years — are the reasons that Tennessee is a national economic leader.
Approximately 2110 new jobs were already announced last month alone, and under conservative leadership, Tennessee has one of the best business climates in the entire country. My colleagues and I are eager to strengthen our economic status this year so Tennessee remains the best place in the entire nation to live, work, raise a family, and retire.
William Lamberth is the House Majority Leader for the 111th Tennessee General Assembly. He is also a member of the House Finance, House Government Operations, and House Calendar & Rules Committees, as well as the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. Lamberth lives in Portland and represents Tennessee House District 44, which includes part of Sumner County.