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Capitol Hill Week
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Governor Bill Haslam presented his State of the State/Budget Address to the General Assembly this week outlining his proposals for promoting job growth; improving education; enhancing public safety; providing a more customer-focused, efficient and effective state government; and, keeping taxes low.Asking citizens to believe in better for Tennessee, the governor said, “We can believe in better for how state government serves Tennesseans. We can believe in better when it comes to the education of our children, and we can believe in better when we talk about a stronger, healthier economy for our state.” The budget provides funding for the governor’s legislative proposals announced earlier in the year that include tougher sentences for certain gang-related crimes and gun possession by those with prior violent felony convictions along with mandatory incarceration for repeat domestic violence offenders.The proposals also call for raising the exemption level on the estate tax in Tennessee from $1 million to $1.25 million to lower the tax burden on family farmers and family business owners; and lowering the state portion of the sales tax on food from 5.5 percent to 5.3 percent with the goal of reducing it to 5 percent during the next three years.On jobs, the governor said he is continuing efforts to attract new businesses to Tennessee by creating the right business climate, with the goal of making the state the number one location in the Southeast for high-quality jobs.The budget provides an additional $10 million in FastTrack Infrastructure and the Job Training Program.