NASHVILLE), March 4, 2019 — Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Ken Yager (R-Kingston) today praised initiatives put forth by Governor Bill Lee in his State of the State / Budget Address Monday evening.  Yager said $35 million in funding for new rural initiatives will be a tremendous help to many counties across the state which are struggling.

“This will give struggling counties in Tennessee a boost in several different areas where help is badly needed,” said Chairman Yager.  “This includes the Rural Opportunity Fund, the Rural Agricultural Development Grants, and the Office of Rural Initiatives.  Included in his Rural Initiatives package is $20 million to expand broadband, which is a huge asset as we look to recruit high quality jobs to these communities.  In addition, he proposed to continue funding for the Rural Hospital Transformation Act, which Republicans added to the budget last year to help struggling rural hospitals develop business plans to ensure their viability and to continue to provided needed healthcare services.”

“On education I was very pleased that the budget includes full funding of the BEP and a raise for our teachers,” he added

“I was also glad to see the budget proposes expansion of Recovery Courts which have been very successful as a tool to address opioid abuse.”

“Overall, it is a strong proposal with a very modest increase and is in keeping with the strong fiscal stewardship which has earned our state a triple-A bond rating and ranking as one of the best financially managed states in the nation.”

Yager said the budget will be studied by the Senate’s nine standing committees over the next five weeks where it is fully vetted before final action is taken.

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