Investing in our Public Schools
I'm a proud public school parent and a vocal public school advocate. People move here for our public schools, our property values are up because of our public schools and corporations build headquarters here because of our public schools. I cannot be more clear when I say we must protect our public education system and stop electing representatives who take money from outside special interest groups who support privatization. Our children and teachers deserve to be represented by someone who will fight to fully fund our public schools and I am that person.
While Williamson County is renowned throughout the state for our high achieving schools, recent efforts have threatened the future of our school system. Tennessee ranks 6th worst for spending amount per student for education, and in 2016, the state government only funded 38% of the cost necessary for students in Williamson County and gave 20% less funding than was requested by our Superintendent. Our incumbent representative introduced legislation that would take public funding from schools to give to private schools or for-profit organizations running charter schools. While local parents vocally opposed the increased pressure on students from standardized testing, our local representative passed a bill that will use these scores to rank schools, increasing pressure even more. With a daughter in 3rd grade and a business owner, my top priority is to increase the funding going to our children's’ education, increasing teacher salaries and benefits, and make sure that Williamson County Schools receive the support they need from the state to continue their tradition of excellence.
By 2040 Williamson County will be the size of Nashville, and Nashville will be unrecognizable. It’s past time to invest in mass transit and it will take all sources of revenue - state fuel revenue, local funding, rider fares and private investment. But first, we need leaders who will face the challenge head on. For too long politicians have been content to kick that can down the road. This is our region's greatest challenge and we have to rise before it and step up and take action.
Williamson County is booming for businesses. While it’s fantastic to see our local businesses finding success and growing at such rapid rates, it’s done nothing to slow down traffic concerns. Between new jobs, new residential areas, and under-funded construction, traffic has gotten substantially worse in Williamson County. We’ve reached a point in our county’s growth where the number of people commuting from Williamson to Davidson county is equivalent to the number commuting from Davidson to Williamson. While our local leaders have done a fantastic job creating plans to handle this increased traffic on our roadways, the state has failed to adequately fund these projects to completion causing increases to property taxes and construction on our roads taking longer than projected to complete.
I plan to work in the state capitol to get our local government leaders the state funding they need to complete projects while also coming up with innovative transit solutions for Davidson-Williamson commuters.
Holding Government Accountable
The job of a state representative is to represent local constituents and work to accomplish things that fall within the state government’s scope of power. I oppose wasting taxpayer time and money on any issues that are outside the scope of power of the state government that are instead powers of the federal government.
The Tennessee General Assembly, very simply, is supposed to primarily do two things: represent their local constituents, and make decisions that are best of the citizens of this state as a whole. Too often the past few years, members of the Assembly overreached, failed to listen to their constituents, or made decisions that adversely affected hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans.
Throughout the 109th legislative session, the leadership in the General Assembly continually attempted to increase their power over local governments, public education, and even higher education school systems. From dictating how the University of Tennessee could use portions of their budget to stripping the ability for local governments to plan workforce housing for teachers and public servants, the power of the Tennessee government often went unchecked. As a representative for District 63, I will fight any legislation that attempts to dictate to local governments what they can and cannot do or could potentially adversely affect Williamson County residents, and will oppose legislation that overreaches the General Assembly’s scope of power. My primary, secondary, and tertiary focuses are all Williamson County residents and how I can improve lives for everyone in Williamson County.
Workforce Housing is defined as housing that is deemed affordable for those who make between 80-150% of the median income in a specified area. For Williamson County, this rate would include incomes between $37,600 and $70,500. The median salaries for teachers, firefighters, police and other public servants who are the backbone of society all fall within this range in Williamson County. I strongly believes that workforce housing is necessary to allow these essential members of the Williamson County community to live within the county and easily access their jobs. Additionally, with the increased traffic of commuters to the Franklin area (now up to 28,000 per day from Davidson County), giving affordable housing to these and others in the workforce who can’t afford to live within the county would reduce traffic, allow these community members to become our neighbors, and reduce our carbon footprint in the process.
Today, more than 4,000 Williamson County residents - people who are working - can’t afford health coverage. Gov. Bill Haslam has proposed a conservative Insure Tennessee plan that has the support of the majority of Tennesseans (both Republicans and Democrats), hospitals, insurance companies, chambers of commerce and clergy. In any reasonable situation, Insure Tennessee would have passed. But because our politics are so broken, it never even came up for a vote.
Middle Tennessee is home to some of the world’s leading healthcare companies and providers. A study from the University of Tennessee showed that the passage of Insure Tennessee would inject over $1.1 billion in new healthcare spending, creating over 15,000 new jobs and $909 million in new income. I plan to work across the aisle to help get this legislation passed to continue helping Tennesseans become healthier every day. A healthy community leads to a healthy economy.