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A Common Goal

Posted Monday, February 6, 2012, at 11:34 AM

Governor Haslam gave his State of the State Address on Monday, January 30th.
By Rep. Craig Fitzhugh

Every year, the Tennessee General Assembly convenes in a joint session and invites the Governor to give an address known as the State of the State. During this speech, the Governor typically unveils his legislative priorities, as well as his budget for the upcoming fiscal year. On Monday, Governor Bill Haslam delivered his second State of the State address in Nashville.

Let me say that I have a great deal of respect for Governor Haslam and, while we belong to different political parties, I stand ready to work with him on the major issues facing our state. But tonight, I was disappointed that I did not hear more about the number one issue facing Tennesseans--jobs.

Right now, there are nearly 270,000 Tennesseans who wake up every morning looking for work. Thousands more are underemployed, working at multiple jobs or jobs that just barely pay the rent. 40 counties in our state still have double digit unemployment rates, including Dyer, Crockett and Lauderdale counties. Yet out of all 55 bills in the Governor's legislative package, only two have anything to do with jobs and the economy. Of those two bills, rural west Tennessee will only have the potential to benefit from one--this simply isn't enough.

Last fall, I joined my colleagues from around the state on the Tennessee Jobs Tour. We met with businesses of all sizes, from companies like Autozone and Nissan that employ thousands to a one man t-shirt shop in Dresden. Everywhere we went we heard the same ideas. These ideas, which are now part of my own Jobs Package, aren't complicated or partisan and they don't cost a lot of money. They're simple solutions like a tax break for people starting a business or a sales tax holiday for small companies needing to update their equipment. Common sense solutions like giving Tennessee businesses preference on state contracts, so your tax dollars go to create jobs here, rather than China, Mexico or another state. They're practical solutions like investing in vocational education through our Technology Centers or retraining people on unemployment with a new skill while they're receiving their benefits. These are real solutions that can turn this economy around and get Tennesseans back to work.

Jobs must be our common goal. As I introduce my Jobs Package in the legislature, I'm hopeful that Governor Haslam and the majority party will work with me to do what is best for all Tennesseans. Jobs are not a partisan issue and neither party has all the right answers. We have to work together, the Governor's party and my own, to find real solutions for Tennessee's jobs crisis. If you would like to see my jobs package, you can visit my website at www.craigfitzhugh.com/blog/jobs.

As always, if you have any questions, please contact my office. Have a great week!

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