NASHVILLE, Tenn., April 19, 2013 — State Senator Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City) lauded the passage of the 2013-2014 budget as the General Assembly prepares to close the 2013 legislative session. Crowe said in addition to being fully balanced and incorporating approximately $43 million in tax cuts for Tennesseans, the budget also contained several priorities he pushed for as Chairman of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. These include $1.86 million in additional funding for the mentally ill, $2.3 million to continue grants for adolescents recovering from alcohol and substance abuse, $2 million to increase reimbursement paid to providers for services to citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities, $2 million to 32 Child Advocacy Centers, $1,500 grants to each of the state’s 44 Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) programs, $25,000 to Tennessee CASA and $400,000 to help veterans who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“This budget helps many Tennesseans receive needed health-related services and services to children,” said Senator Crowe. “This includes help from non-profit agencies which do a great job in serving adolescents in need of residential treatment services for substance abuse, like the Comprehensive Community Services in Johnson City. This money will help treat about 300 children from all across the state, who might otherwise be committed to some sort of state custody.”
Crowe said many of the referrals for substance abuse treatment for these adolescents were made by juvenile courts.
The funds for veterans with PTSD go to “Not Alone,” which also is a non-profit organization. The organization provides individual counseling for soldiers and their families suffering from PTSD. As of March, 9 Tennessee guardsmen had committed suicide due to PTSD suffered from their deployments in the Global War on Terror.
“Our veterans cared more about our liberty and freedom than their own lives,” said Crowe. “Some soldiers who come home are severely affected by the trauma experienced on the field of battle. We need to do all we can to give them the help they need. I am proud of my colleagues for working with Senators Green, Gresham and myself to provide this very important funding.” All three senators are veterans.
Crowe said another notable amendment added to the $32.8 billion budget before passage includes $50,000 for each of the state’s 9 developmental districts.
“Our development districts do a great job in serving needy citizens in our districts,” added Crowe. “This will help them in those efforts.”
Crowe said the budget also fully funds the Basic Education Program, invests $51 million to assist local governments in paying for technology transition upgrades in schools across the state, makes available $34 million to address ongoing capital needs that can be used for increased security measures to protect students, and appropriates more than $35 million for K-12 teacher salary increases. In higher education it provides $307.3 million to fund capital outlay projects in higher education, $35 million to fund the state’s new outcome-based formula adopted under the state’s Complete College Act, $5 million to provide assistance to 2,675 needy students and $16.5 million for equipment for Tennessee’s Technical Centers and Community Colleges.
“In direct contrast to Washington, Tennessee’s budget is balanced,” Crowe added. “We are continuing our second step in a four-year process to phase out the state’s inheritance tax, it allows more senior citizens to qualify for Hall income tax relief and reduces the state sales tax on grocery food from 5.25% to 5.0%. I believe we have struck a good balance in taking care of our citizens who need help, providing tax relief to our citizens as we recover from the recession, and investing new dollars in education and job development.”