What You Won’t Hear In Tonight’s State Of The State Address

In 2013, Governor Bill Haslam dedicated a third of his speech to education, outlining a campaign to get 55 percent of Tennesseans with at least a two-year degree. Credit: Stephen Jerkins

In 2013, Governor Bill Haslam dedicated a third of his speech to education, outlining a campaign to get 55 percent of Tennesseans with at least a two-year degree. Credit: Stephen Jerkins

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam will give the final State of the State Address of his first term tonight. Little is known about what he will say. But there are some guesses about what he won’t.

House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh has his doubts. But he’d love for the governor to finally detail his plan to expand the state’s Medicaid program under Obamacare.

“There will never be another venue better than at the State of the State address,” he said.

Last year, Haslam said the time wasn’t right. He said just last week there’s nothing new, though he’s still in talks with the White House.

The governor spent much of his 2013 speech on the topic of education. He only vaguely referred to his program to pay private school tuition for low-income students in failing schools. The controversial voucher proposal was put off for the year.

Rep. John DeBerry (D-Memphis), who is one of the legislature’s biggest voucher advocates, says he doesn’t expect it to get any air time.

“I think he is smart to be cautious,” DeBerry said. “I think he is smart to not say too much.”

What little the governor has said about the State of the State is that he’ll focus on finances and what he called “big challenges” with education. Tax revenues are continuing to come in well below estimates. And the Haslam Administration has focused on how to get more Tennesseans into higher education.

So far, Haslam has only outlined one legislative proposal – his plan to curb meth production by requiring prescriptions to get any more than a 10-day supply of cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine.
The deadline to file legislation for the year comes – conveniently – this week.

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