Gov. Lee announces amendment to proposed Tenn. budget that would include 2-week sales tax holiday

Tennessee

File-This Nov. 10, 2020, file photo shows Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee speaks with reporters in Nashville, Tenn. Lee has tweeted that his wife has mild symptoms of COVID-19 after testing positive for the coronavirus. The Republican governor said Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, that he has tested negative for the virus but will be quarantined at the Governor’s Residence out of an abundance of caution. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced an amendment to the state’s proposed Fiscal Year 2021-2022 budget, according to a release from his office.

The release states that Lee’s amendment “includes $580 million in available funds as a result of fiscal prudence.”

The funds included in the amendment would be used in a long-term effort spanning multiple projects to return priorities in Tennessee to those highlighted before the pandemic’s prevalence, according to the release.

The governor’s office states that Lee’s amendment to the budget also features “nearly $100 million for a two-week sales tax holiday on all grocery sales, purchases at restaurants, and all prepared food.”

Lee said in a statement that his hope in the amendment is to help Tennessee invest in post-pandemic life.

“This proposal supports Tennesseans by strategically investing in long-term initiatives that will move our state forward,” Lee said in the release. “I’m especially proud to provide tax cuts to get money back to Tennesseans to encourage them to frequent industries that have been disproportionately and negatively impacted this year.”  

The release provided the following investments that would be included in the budget amendment:

Tax Cuts 

  • $25M for a two-week sales tax holiday for groceries 
  • $75M for a two-week sales tax holiday for restaurants and all prepared food 
  • $16M to reduce the professional privilege tax by 25 percent

K-12 Education and Mental Health 

  • $250M trust fund to assist K-12 families who are facing significant mental health issues in the wake of COVID-19 
  • $18.5M to transportation to students for summer learning  
  • $2M to provide an additional 4 high quality, grade aligned books and resources over the summer for the 88,000 rising first graders in Tennessee 

Higher Education 

  • $79M to eliminate current TCAT waitlists statewide, currently at 11,400 students 
  • $25M to Tennessee Promise to permit increases in the Hope Scholarship  
  • $4M to increase Agriculture Extension Agents at University of Tennessee and Tennessee State University  

Rural & Agriculture  

  • $50K to support the state fair (in addition to the $250,000 recurring in originally proposed budget for total of $300K and $5M non-recurring)  
  • $3M to provide additional funding for rural projects as part of the Rural Economic Opportunity Fund (in addition to $21M in originally proposed budget for total of $24M)   

Safety 

  • $500K to provide gun safety programming for children  
  • $17M to replace radios for state troopers   
  • $18M to improve the statewide disaster communications system  
  • $680K to add 4 new Homeland Security Agents  

Economic Development 

  • $5M to provide grants to restore and preserve historic downtowns across the state  
  • $3M to increase employment in Tennessee through the Small Business Innovation program 

Transportation 

  • $3M recurring and an additional $10M nonrecurring to provide additional direct funding to airports across Tennessee through the Transportation Equity Fund (total $50M investment in air infrastructure) 

You can read the full amendment below:

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