The Crossville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce held a legislative breakfast at Cumberland Medical Center this morning. Tennessee Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton, Senator Paul Bailey and Congressman John Rose attended the meeting. Rose did not address the crowd during the session.
Senator Paul Bailey spoke to the crowd first.
Senator Bailey said Tennessee is the 5th lowest indebted state in the nation and has the 3rd best pension fund in the nation. Tennessee also is one of five states that has a zero road debt. “That helps get a great AAA bond rating for future projects,” said Senator Bailey.
“We are seeing a robust job growth and low unemployment,” added Senator Bailey.
Senator Bailey then took aim at the broadband issue and Frontier.
“We are going to introduce legislation soon to call for Frontier to bring up to standards the internet services they are supplying their customers with. I have heard many bad stories about their internet service and that has to change in Tennessee.”
Senator Bailey also spoke of 911 funding. The fee that customers pay was set at $1.16 a month but a lot of cellphone are in play now with a reduction in land lines. The state may look at an increase to better fund 911 systems.
In regards to the driver’s license centers in the state, Senator Bailey said he is hearing the wait time for customers in the centers is up to two hours and we need to get that wait time down. “We will look at improving customer services at the driver’s license centers soon.”
Senator Bailey also gave an update on the major road construction projects in Cumberland County. “The expansion of Highway 127 North is being delayed by right of way issues. TDOT is working on that now. Peavine Road is well underway after a 14 year wait and there are other road projects being considered in Cumberland County.”
Tennessee Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton then spoke to the ones in attendance. Sexton said healthcare will be a big topic once the general assembly meets later this month. “We need to get healthcare back to a model for the people to empower them and make healthcare more affordable.”
One issue that Speaker Sexton spoke of was criminal justice sentencing reform. “We need a better sentencing structure in this state. The majority of ones sentenced in counties only serve a faction of their time. If it is a federal court that sentences, the the vast majority of violators serves all the time given to them. We need to look at this to see how to strengthen the sentencing in the county court system,” said Speaker Sexton.
On the topic of education, Speaker Sexton said the state has a lot of improvements to make including looking at increasing teacher pay. “We have great educators in this state that are doing their job because it is a calling instead of pay.” Speaker Sexton added that every student in K-12 deserves an opportunity to be successful and the state will look at ways to ensure that.
Senator Paul Bailey