Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has big plans for the state in 2017. He wants to raise the gas tax and the diesel tax to pay for the state’s transportation needs. He wants to cut the state sales tax on groceries. He wants to expand broadband internet across the state and he wants Tennessee to become the first state in the nation to offer all adults access to community college free of tuition and fees.
These initiatives headlined the governor’s annual State of the State address. Tennessee’s lawmakers will now weigh in, as they discuss, debate and eventually vote on the governor’s legislative priorities. Citizen input will play an important role in the process.
Lipscomb University’s College of Leadership and Public Service convened a panel of its faculty and experts to discuss the governor’s speech and how Tennesseans can impact the process. The panelists included: Dr. Michelle Steele, academic director for the Nelson and Sue Andrews Institute for Civic Leadership; Linda Peek Schacht, Founding Director of the Andrews Institute; Associate Dean Dr. Kristine LaLonde and Cathy Cate, Executive Director of Leadership Tennessee, the state’s only statewide leadership program. The panel was moderated by Lydia Lenker, Director of Events and Community Engagement. New Student Enrollment Manager Amy Goode provided guests with information about the college and its masters programs, which are designed to equip its students to address the issues facing our state and communities with the goal of creating sustainable, positive change.
The discussion ranged from the purpose of the annual speech, its importance as a communications tool for the governor, the issues addressed versus what wasn’t addressed and the prospects of the state legislature voting to adopt the proposals.
The event attracted current, prospective and alumni students, community partners and a former state senator.