With the first half of the 110th General Assembly set to kick off in January, House Republicans are busy preparing for another year focused on passing commonsense initiatives to aid with a broad range of issues, all of which will help ensure Tennessee remains positioned for future prosperity.
Unlike Washington, D.C., the GOP supermajority in Tennessee has worked together to pass legislation that limits government intrusion in our daily lives, cuts taxes so we all have more money in our pocket at the end of the month, and that creates an environment to encourage businesses to locate and expand in Tennessee.
Under conservative leadership, Tennessee is a better place to live, work and raise a family than at any time in the past — and we have the facts to back it up.
Based on recent economic reports, our state is No. 1 in the Southeast and No. 2 in the entire United States for job growth over the last year. Since 2011, over 325,000 net new private sector jobs have been created. And, thanks to things like tort reform and the overhaul of our workers’ compensation system, more Tennesseans have a job today than at any single point in our state history.
In August, our unemployment rate of 4.4 percent was below the national average and the lowest it has been in Tennessee over the past 10 years. Since taking over the majority in 2011, the Republican General Assembly, with the help of Gov. Bill Haslam, has cut twice as much in taxes than any other administration or General Assembly before us, including eliminating the inheritance tax and gift tax, reducing the sales tax on food multiple times, and passing legislation to completely phase out the Hall tax by 2022.
We also have been successful in implementing a conservative fiscal strategy by cutting more than $500 million in recurring spending from the budget, doubling our rainy day fund since 2011, and balancing our budgets without taking on any additional debt. These achievements mean we have shrunk state government by over 10 percent, which has resulted in Tennessee having the lowest interest rate in our state’s recorded history along with becoming the lowest debt state in the nation.
To top things off, our work to expand charter schools and implement higher standards in our public education system combined with our push to equip our children with the tools they need to reach their full potential has led to Tennessee students becoming the fastest improving in the country.
And, as we look forward to next year, the Republican-led General Assembly will continue to monitor our bold education reforms by listening to the input of teachers across the state on how to improve these new initiatives for even further success in the months to come. After all, our teachers are on the front lines and truly know what’s best for our students.
There is no doubt in the years ahead that our state will also face challenges. However, I remain confident we can overcome future obstacles by continuing to implement our shared conservative principles: making government more efficient and eliminating waste where possible, eliminating bureaucratic red tape so our businesses can thrive, and keeping Tennessee taxes as low as absolutely possible.
As we look forward to the 2017 legislative session, Republicans are energized to once again follow your instruction as we move into the new year. We must keep our economic momentum in high gear, and we humbly ask that you continue to support the progress that has been made since 2011 by re-electing a strong Republican majority to the state legislature this year.
In return, we give you our word to continue building on our prior successes to make Tennessee an even better place to call home.
Rep. Glen Casada, R-Thompson’s Station, represents District 63 in the Tennessee House of Representatives and is the chairman of the House Republican Caucus.