Tennessee Legislative Update

March 20, 2020

Late last night, the Tennessee General Assembly passed a state budget and adjourned until June 1 in an unprecedented move to wrap up amid COVID-19 concerns. Due to the pandemic and subsequent predicted economic downturn, this budget is significantly smaller than the budget Governor Lee proposed during his State of the State Address earlier this year. The budget passed last night cut nearly a billion dollars in spending priorities from the original, while it reallocated some of those dollars to address the pandemic. In this budget, the Governor and Legislature established new funding to combat COVID-19 ($150M), provided grants to counties and cities ($200M), supplied tornado relief funding for communities and individuals affected by the early March storms ($30M), and, most notably, made a large investment in the State’s Rainy Day Fund ($350M). The Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Budget projects .25 percent in revenue growth compared to the last Fiscal Year projection of 3.1 percent. This is a stark contrast to previous budgets where Tennessee had seen high revenue collections year over year, resulting in significant surpluses.

In an effort to quickly pass the constitutionally required state budget and adjourn, most pieces of legislation were paused. This includes Governor Lee’s legislative package and hundreds of legislative proposals that were working their way through committee before the COVID-19 pandemic. The adjournment leaves the door open for the legislature to return this summer after the pandemic has subsided. The legislature is set to reconvene on June 1 and currently plans to take up legislative proposals and, pending state revenues, continue their work on the state budget in June.

State Government has created a page for COVID-19 that is updated daily.  https://www.tn.gov/governor/covid-19.html