Gubernatorial candidate Diane Black released what she says is a “comprehensive plan to lift up rural communities in Tennessee and make sure every Tennessean has the opportunity to live their version of the American Dream.”
“Tennessee’s economy is on the move, but not every part of our state is experiencing the economic boom,” Black said in a statement, adding:
Our rural communities, which make up 60% of our state, are the lifeblood of our state, but aren’t seeing the same success as areas like Nashville.
We need policies coming out of Nashville that help lift up those rural communities, rather than further their economic decline. I will fight from day one to make sure that we leave no town behind and every person in our state has the opportunity to live their version of the American Dream.
Diane Black’s plan – an outline of which was provided by the campaign and is published in full below – is aimed at strengthening Tennessee’s economy and to “Leave No Town Behind”
Promote Rural Infrastructure and Educational Opportunity:
- I will prioritize the infrastructure needs of rural communities. But it’s not a one-size-fits-all problem.
- Where the need is broadband, I will support solutions that allow broadband to be installed as soon as possible. It is as important to this generation as rural electrification was to the Greatest Generation. Tele-health, online course offerings in K-12 and GPS for modern farm equipment are just a few examples of why we need rural broadband NOW.
- Where the need is roads, bridges, sewer/water projects or planning assistance, I will expedite those projects on Day One.
- We need to invest in our county health departments to meet the primary care needs of the community and make them the hub of expanded tele-health offerings.
- If a community loses its emergency room, we will work to develop a free-standing emergency room in that county.
- Our best and brightest students don’t have to leave rural areas for a great education. I will create a statewide middle college program for high school students. The framework is already in place, but it has not been implemented statewide.
- This will give students access to academic, visual and performing arts opportunities beyond those available in the students’ local schools. Students can focus on a specific area of intellectual or artistic strength and study in a way that best suits their talents.
Create and Expand Incentives for In-State Businesses:
- We’ve spent millions recruiting businesses to move here. However, in recent years, home grown businesses have been taken for granted. I’m going to focus like never before on home grown Tennessee businesses left out of the incentives offered to out of state businesses.
- I’ll make it easier for Tennessee businesses to operate and expand into rural counties. Those are the incentives we should now be offering.
- “New Entrepreneur Toolkit” – every new business will receive the information they need so government won’t stand in their way.
Keep Tennessee Taxes Low:
- Tennessee is one of the lowest-taxed states in the country. As Governor, I will fight to keep it that way. We made significant progress on the federal level to reduce taxes on small business and middle-class families. There’s no reason the state of Tennessee should undue our good work.
- I will support speeding up the elimination of the Hall Tax on interest and dividends and reviewing our franchise and excise taxes to see whether we can continue to lower the tax burden on Tennessee job creators.
Expand Vocational Training:
- I will make Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology more accessible to rural areas and I’ll recruit businesses with this offer – if you create or expand jobs in rural areas, we’ll partner with you to teach the skills you need in local high schools, creating a pipeline of employees for years to come.