Haslam Reflects On First Term, Lays Out Work Ahead

Saturday, January 17, 2015 | 9:04pm

NASHVILLE – Gov. Bill Haslam today was sworn in for his second four-year term as the 49th governor of Tennessee, addressing thousands of Inaugural attendees from across the state on War Memorial Plaza with the State Capitol serving as the backdrop.

“One thing I can guarantee you that we are not going to do in the next four years is coast to the finish line,” Haslam said.  “The decisions that we make in the building behind me are too important; too important to the 6.5 million Tennesseans who are alive today and even more important for the generations that will follow us.”

The governor called on Tennesseans to work together to build on the state’s successes and momentum.

“It’s about all of us. The governor, legislators, state employees, teachers, parents, community leaders, business executives, health care professionals, faith leaders, and citizens of all kinds saying: ‘We are on the right path, but we can do better, and we must do better,’” he added. 

“We can be a state government that treats its citizens like customers and gives full value for every tax dollar that is paid.  Tennessee can be the very best location in the southeast for high quality jobs. Most importantly, we can make sure that we get education right.  There is nothing more important for us to do.” 

Haslam charted progress that has been made in Tennessee during his first four years in office, especially in his priority areas of a well-managed, efficient and effective state government; better educational opportunities and outcomes for more Tennesseans; and high-quality, good paying Tennessee jobs. Highlights include:

Efficient and Effective State Government

• Tennessee has the lowest debt per person of any of the 50 states.
• Tennessee tax rates are among the lowest in the country.
• Overhaul of the state’s outdated employment system allows the state to now recruit, reward and retain the best and brightest to serve in state government.

Education

• Tennessee is the fastest improving state in the country in academic achievement.
• There are now 100,000 more kids proficient at grade-level in math, and more than 57,000 additional students are proficient at grade-level in science since 2011.
• Tennessee is the first state in the country to promise high school graduates two years of community or technical college free of tuition and fees.

Jobs

• 210,000 net new private sector jobs have been created in Tennessee since January 2011.
• Tennessee named “State of the Year” in economic development for an unprecedented two years in a row.
• Implemented tort reform and overhauled the state’s worker’s compensation system to further strengthen the state’s business climate.

The governor highlighted Tennessee’s leading status in the automotive manufacturing sector as well as other advanced manufacturing and technological industries where the state is at the center of innovation.  He also addressed challenges facing the state, including concerns about whether Tennessee’s workforce has and will have the technical skills and ability to meet the demands of a rapidly changing global economy. 
 
“I see the job of governor as being part of a historically significant relay race.  I was handed the baton four years ago, and it is my job to be intentional about advancing that baton during my eight years in office and handing it off to the next governor in a better position than it was handed to me. 

“As we embark on the second leg of this race, it is going to take all of us running together.  The time is right for us to take longer strides, to run harder, to reach further, and to gain more ground. We can do this together, and to reach our full potential, we have to do it together.”