Local Politicians React to Lee’s State of the State

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – Tennessee Governor Bill Lee gave his annual State of the State address last night in Nashville. 

Governor Lee just started his second term as Tennessee Governor after his landslide re-election and celebrated this fact during his speech.

Gov. Lee proclaimed, “I say with great pride that Tennessee is leading the nation. The state of our beloved state is prosperous, hopeful and unrivaled.”

Some of the main topics of the roughly 50-minute address included increased healthcare, transportation and education funding.

Gov. Lee revealed, “We are proposing legislation that, if it passes, will increase the minimum teacher pay, by the time I leave office, to $50,000.”

However, a notable omission is drawing criticism from the other side of the aisle.

Governor Lee mentioned Tyre Nichols in his address, saying that he was in constant prayer for their family and commended the people of Memphis for showing compassion and providing hope.

This was not enough for some lawmakers, such as Yusuf Hakeem, state representative for District 28 in Chattanooga, as he did not propose any police reforms.

Hakeem said, “You can make comments about how you feel in regard to Mr. Nichols. But to not come forward as an administrator of our state, I think you have to put forward some guidelines or guideposts in terms of policing.”

Representative Hakeem also took issue with the Governor’s healthcare proposal, saying that Lee’s plan to cover 25,000 more people through TennCare isn’t enough.

Hakeem stated, “If we look at the Affordable Care Act, we can reduce the number of people when we are talking about 400,000 people in the state of Tennessee who are in need of healthcare.”

He said that while he thinks some of the proposals are positive and needed, the funding does not directly go to the citizens enough.

Anti Lgbtq Bills

FILE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee delivers his State of the State address in the House Chamber, Jan. 31, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. Tennessee’s Republican-dominant Legislature on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, advanced a handful of proposals that would ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth and severely limit where drag shows can take place. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski, File)

Hakeem said, “All the dollars we spend on structures, buildings, and things of that nature. We know those kinds of things need to be done. But I think we need to be investing more dollars into people directly when it comes to food, healthcare, and education.”

Hakeem also added that he wants to focus on rail and public transit across the state.

News 12 received a statement from the Hamilton County Republican Party on their thoughts on Governor Lee’s address.

Their statement reads as follows:

“The Hamilton County Republican Party is pleased to see the State of Tennessee in such great shape economically, based on sound, fiscally conservative policies. We are proud that Governor Lee is supporting our citizens with tax relief, our schools with funding and our teachers with pay increases. We are especially glad to see Governor Lee, and his team, plan for the future in order to sustain investment in infrastructure and education.”

Tyre Nichols’ family will be present at tonight’s State of the Union address where President Biden is expected to address police reform in front of the nation.

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