The budget is always a top issue but it will be especially important due to strong tax collections, excess revenues and the flow of federal stimulus funds into Tennessee.

The state is in the best financial condition in recent history. Economic advisors, however, have cautioned that one-time stimulus funds, changing spending patterns and high inflation could cause revenues to wane in the next fiscal year. Expect the legislature to be very thoughtful in how state dollars are budgeted by possibly even taking a multi-year approach in spending to ensure Tennessee’s continued strong financial stability, which has gained the state the status of being the best financially managed state in the nation.

Tax Relief — There will also be discussion in the 2022 legislative session regarding returning some of the excess revenues to taxpayers in the form of tax relief.  

Expect budget discussions to include further tax relief for the remaining seven professions subject to the professional privilege tax. Other forms of tax relief (LLCs) will also be discussed as legislators look for ways to ensure tax fairness and to put more hard-earned money back in the pockets of Tennesseans in a way that affects the most people.

BEP — Like the state budget, education is always a top issue for the Tennessee General Assembly.

In October, Gov. Bill Lee announced he is tackling the state’s education funding formula for K-12 schools. He believes the 30-year-old formula should be modernized and revised to be more transparent, effective and student-centered. In order to identify the BEP’s strengths and weaknesses, the Department of Education formed a central steering committee and 18 subcommittees who rigorously reviewed the formula.  

The steering committee’s recommendations could come before the General Assembly in the 2022 legislative session.

Redistricting — One of the top issues on the 2022 legislative agenda will be redistricting Tennessee’s Senate, House and Congressional districts.  

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and House Speaker Cameron Sexton formed bipartisan committees to take on the task of redistricting in an open and transparent redistricting process. They also offered the public and interested groups an opportunity to use state-of-the-art software to construct and submit a plan to the committee for consideration.  

Tennessee’s population increase of 8.9 percent has not grown evenly across the state with a rapid growth in the ring around Middle Tennessee counties surrounding Davidson. Expect changes to accommodate this fact and for redistricting legislation to be completed very early in the session to give candidates plenty of time to consider their candidacy before the qualifying deadline in April.

Health Care — Health care will continue to be a top priority in 2022 with a variety of important issues on tap for discussion by the General Assembly.  

Legislators will look for ways to continue to support health care systems, lower costs, increase access and improve quality of care for all Tennesseans. This includes mental health services with many persons impacted by the pandemic.

Jobs — The General Assembly will continue to focus on providing an environment that will boost Tennessee’s economy in the 2022 legislative session.  

In 2021, despite the pandemic, Tennessee secured 130 economic projects representing nearly 35,000 job commitments and nearly $13 billion in capital investment. The state’s employment rebounded faster than the national average, reaching the pre-pandemic unemployment rate of 4 percent in November.  

The General Assembly will look at measures to bolster the state’s workforce and eliminate hurdles that are keeping workers from returning to it. This includes education and efforts to provide them with the skills to get a great job.

Labor Shortages — While Tennessee’s economy has showed great progress in recuperating from the pandemic, recovery of the state’s labor force has been disappointing.

Many Tennessee businesses have reported an insufficient supply of willing or qualified workers with 55,000 fewer workers on Tennessee payrolls than before the pandemic. This includes health care workers, teachers and bus drivers. Workplace shortages also exist in certain departments of state government like the Department of Corrections.  

These shortages will likely be on the list of issues discussed during the 2022 legislative session. 

The 28th District State Senate seat is held by Dr. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, and includes Giles and five other counties.

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