The Beacon Center of Tennessee, a Nashville-based free market think tank, recently released its 2023 agenda focusing on the top four policy issues most affecting Tennesseans. The organization describes its ‘2023 Back to the Basics’ agenda as a “blueprint for restoring Tennesseans’ freedom.”
The top four issues among Tennesseans, according to the Beacon Center, include: housing costs, education quality, healthcare access and affordability, and economic opportunity.
Noting that high housing costs in the state was the top issue among Tennesseans, the Beacon Center suggested ways in its agenda that would help lower the cost of owning or renting a home.
To give local voters a direct voice in large property tax increases, the organization is proposing a property tax referendum bill. In addition, the organization suggests raising the arbitrary cap on projects that home improvement contractors can work on, which it believes is likely to make some home improvements easier and less expensive. As a final step, the Beacon Center is attempting to eliminate the pending ordinance doctrine, which means local governments will have to pass the zoning regulations they desire to enforce rather than allowing them to take effect without a vote.
In regards to improving the quality of education in the state, the Beacon Center suggests expanding the Educational Savings Account (ESA) program to “ensure students have more educational opportunities wherever possible.” The ESA program provides additional education choices – such as expanding access to charter schools – for students and parents.
On the topic of healthcare access and affordability, the Beacon Center previously released a separate report highlighting challenges posed by Certificate-of-Needs (CON) laws in the state. The organization is calling on Tennessee policymakers to repeal the “outdated” CON laws which, as it states in its previous report, “deprive millions of people of additional access to care and deprive communities of hundreds of millions of dollars in economic benefits,” as previously reported by The Tennessee Star.
Beacon Center of Tennessee Releases Healthcare Access Report Highlighting the Barriers Posed by Certificate-of-Need Lawshttps://t.co/0OcB2U6Ge3
— Tennessee Star (@TheTNStar) January 13, 2023
The organization also suggests expanding access to telehealth services, having more transparency in healthcare pricing, as well as allowing pharmacists to conduct “simple diagnostic tests to reduce the stress on doctors and other primary care providers.”
The Beacon Center’s last suggestion in its 2023 agenda focuses on Tennessee’s business tax in regards to creating stronger economic opportunities in the state. As of now, small businesses and start-ups in the state must pay a gross business tax. Tennessee is one of seven states in the country that implements what the Beacon Center believes is an “unfair tax.” The organization suggests that the state repeal this tax, due in part to it “increasing the cost of goods for everyday Tennesseans at every stage of production while also increasing inflation.”
The Beacon Center constructed its 2023 agenda after conducting listening tours across the state of Tennessee, focus groups hearing about the biggest issues facing Tennesseans, and a large statewide poll, the group reports.
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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network.
Photo “Doctor and Patient” by Antoni Shkraba.