Governor Lee Amends State Budget To Assume No Economic Growth; Says No Need To Stockpile Groceries; $350 Million To Be Taken From Rainy Day fund

  • Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Governor Bill Lee is amending the state budget, due to the effects of the coronavirus, to reflect zero growth.

The earlier budget had projected 3.1 percent growth in the coming fiscal year.

Governor Lee called it "a great economic crisis" and said the state would have to dip into the Rainy Day Fund by $350 million. 

He said grocery shopping should be as normal, saying, "There is absolutely no need to stockpile or hoard." He said there are job opportunities with grocers across the state.

The governor said 570 more ventilators have been ordered for the Department of Health. 

Lt. Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) said, "Tennessee's commitment to bipartisan fiscal responsibility has been a hallmark of our governance for decades. Due to that commitment, we are more thoroughly prepared to address the new challenges we face than any state in the nation. Governor Lee's expedited emergency budget provides for immediate relief to those affected by the recent tornadoes which ravaged our state as well as the COVID-19 public health emergency that continues to present a threat to our people and our economy. The steps all Tennesseans are taking together to prevent the spread of this virus will have economic ramifications, possibly severe ones.

 

"This proposed budget ensures Tennessee will be in a posture to respond to the fallout and provide the essential services all Tennesseans count on. The General Assembly will review this budget proposal over the next few days and endeavor to fulfill our constitutional duty with all deliberate speed."

 

Governor Lee provided an update on Tennessee’s efforts around COVID-19 relief this afternoon.

 

Gov. Lee’s daily press conferences can be viewed live each day this week through Thursday at 3 p.m. CT here. Gov. Lee has also established a website specific to COVID-19 updates which can be found here.

 

Updates & Reminders

 

State Employee Workforce

Currently,15,000 state employees are working from home through the state’s Alternative Workplace Solutions (AWS) program.

  • The Department of Human Resources is rapidly acquiring resources to place another 8,400 employees on AWS which will bring the total to more than approximately 23,400 employees.
  • 37% of Tennessee’s state employee workforce performs functions that cannot transition to AWS, and we continue to double down on efforts to keep these employees safe at work in the wake of COVID-19.

 

FY21 Budget Amendment

Today, the Lee Administration presented an amended budget proposal to the General Assembly which can be viewed here. The amended budget comfortably covers the essentials while making appropriate reductions and investing in reserve funds.

  • The budget amendment has changed to address a lower growth rate of 2.5% for the current year.
    • Includes an additional $350 million in the Rainy-Day fund to ensure Tennessee remains prepared.
    • Continues to fully fund obligations such as the BEP, growth in TennCare and other liabilities.
  • A new $150 million fund for health and safety issues resulting from COVID-19 has also been established. 

 

Grocery & Food Supply Chain

  • Gov. Lee spoke with the Grocers Association today and confirmed the strength of the supply chain.
  • Tennesseans should grocery shop as they normally would before the COVID-19 pandemic and should avoid stockpiling or hoarding.
  • While the food supply chain is strong, Tennessee grocers are in need of additional employees, and those seeking employment are encouraged to apply.

 

Administration Actions for Targeted Relief

 

Small Business Support

  • Submitted request for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance to the U.S. Small Business Administration.
  • Once the declaration is made, all Tennessee small businesses and nonprofit organizations that have suffered economic injury as a result of COVID-19 will be eligible to apply for disaster loan assistance of up to $2 million per applicant.
  • Small businesses who are ready to explore these efforts should visit www.SBA.gov. Additional information can be found here.

 

Medical Supplies Capacity

  • The Tennessee Department of Health is working in conjunction with the Tennessee Department of Military and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) to aggressively pursue every available avenue for medical supplies and personal protective equipment.
  • Today, the Lee Administration authorized the order of an additional 570 ventilators to support Tennessee hospitals that may need additional capacity.
  • We will also continue to work with FEMA to pursue supply kits that the federal government is making available.
  • Tennesseans can also help to provide a critical supply need by donating blood. Red Cross blood donation locations can be found here.
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