Capitol Hill Conversation: State Of The State Preview

Jan 28, 2013

The Tennessee Capitol in Nashville.

Tonight, Governor Bill Haslam will give his State of the State address in front of lawmakers in Nashville. The speech is expected to be largely about money and policy. Over the past year, tax revenues have increase in Tennessee and the governor is expected to outline his plans for a budget surplus.

“The governor has warned us that much of this new revenue the state is getting is already spoken for,” said Blake Farmer who covers the Tennessee Capitol for WPLN. “That’s because of the rising costs associated with TennCare--primarily this is more people enrolling.”  The more people who sign up for TennCare, the more the program costs for the state to run. 

Even so, the governor is expected to announce a raise for state workers, and Haslam has hinted he will put more money into higher education. 

Last year, the governor proposed reducing the estate tax on inheritance. The Legislature later chose to phase that tax out completely. “Now there is talk about getting rid of something called the Hall tax,” said Farmer. The Hall tax is a six percent tax on investment income, and it was named for the state senator who originally proposed the bill. 

“Republican leaders say it hits more than just rich people,” Farmer said, “they say run of the mill retirees are often getting pinched, too.”

On the policy side, Haslam’s office says he will outline changes he’d like to see in the way workers’ compensation claims are handled. 

“Small businesses have been pushing hard for changes,” Farmer explained. “Their biggest request is to keep disputes out of the courts by establishing some sort of special commission. They think it gets a lot more expensive and complicated when you are dealing with workers’ compensation issues with lawyers. ”

Haslam's State of the State address will air live from Nashville tonight at 6:00 p.m. on WKNO/Channel 10.