As your elected representative, I will fight to make Tennessee the most business-friendly state. Local small businesses and career-minded Tennesseans alike suffer from entrenched bureaucracy, exemplified by burdensome professional licensing processes and their associated fees. As a former small business owner and licensed engineer, I know firsthand that occupational licensing should be used only when less taxing methods of protecting customers have failed. The time has come for a bipartisan effort to streamline the red-tape that stifles healthy competition and prevents hard-working Tennesseans from pursuing their dreams.
I am committed to removing stigmas that deprive students and our children of opportunity. Some think that success can only be achieved through four-year degrees, but for many Tennesseans, opportunity means skilled jobs attained through vocational training. Tennessee, and especially our district, lacks comprehensive trade and vocational learning programs, both at the high school and higher education levels. Facilitating access to vocation-based educational opportunities will open doors for high-paying, skill-based jobs, broaden workforce diversity, and keep our district moving forward.
School nurses help to proactively detect bullying and hardships in a student’s home life, as well as provide valuable insight on how to best address the difficulties of students with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Currently, Tennessee statute accommodates funding for one (1) school nurse per four-thousand (4000) students. This ratio clearly depicts an area that desperately needs funding and is an initiative that can pay huge dividends for improving the lives of our children. It is time that we renew our effort to be an example for the rest of the country to follow.
Nashvillians are united by the knowledge that the city’s traffic congestion must be addressed. As your representative, I will bring my experience as a mechanical engineer and aerospace engineer to our state legislature. While Metro Council holds ultimate authority over our next transit plan, I will work to maintain an effective communication stream with our state government every step of the way to keep you informed. Building a structured, mechanized transit system capable of connecting all areas of Nashville with a long-term, sustainable grid system is essential. In the meantime, I will use my voice to advocate for the backlogged infrastructure projects in District 50 to address our aging roads.
State and local government IT systems are insecure, which is especially concerning considering the sensitive data they store and transmit: health records, student behavioral and academic data, financial and credit information - the list goes on. The only reason we are not seeing more data breaches at the local level is because, unlike Fortune 500 companies, local governments lack the expertise and technology to even detect when they’ve been hacked. Most politicians respond to cyber threats with the same ineffective song and dance: new regulations and more funding, usually put in the hands of a bureaucrat with paltry IT experience.
I understand that security doesn’t come from blank checks and red-tape. Instead, let’s streamline and consolidate our state’s IT infrastructure to increase visibility and accountability, eschew pricey state contracts with aging IT vendors in favor of scrappy innovators, and create workplaces and opportunities that attract top technical talent.
Too often, we read about situations that could have been addressed with the proper mental healthcare. In 2018, the General Assembly took a major step forward by addressing the multifaceted challenge of solving the opioid epidemic. As your elected representative, I will plan to work with House and Senate leadership to increase funding for mental healthcare in Tennessee to proactively benefit all Tennesseans and keep our district safe.
Tennessee is a nationwide example of what a low tax state is capable of, and I am proud of what we have done to keep this trend going. Low taxes have led Tennessee to an unprecedented level of economic success and created a guide for other states to follow.
I intend to expand our state’s successful low tax mantra by phasing out the professional privilege tax and lowering our state beer tax in Tennessee. The professional privilege tax strips our workers of nearly $340 million dollars each year, requiring that 22 professions in Tennessee pay a $400 annual fee. Costs are so egregious that there have been over 100 attempts to alter the tax since its enactment in 1992. If elected, I would work to create a fair system that does not penalize a person for choosing a specific profession.
Similarly, Tennessee has the number highest beer tax of any state nationwide – sometimes reaching up to 40% of its cost, according to the Beer Institute. As a former small business owner, I know the burden that taxes like these put on entrepreneurs. I am a proud Tennessean and want us to be first in many areas, but taxes should never be one of them. I pledge to work across the aisle in our state legislature to lower taxes for all Tennesseans.
Our state is among the best in the country for workforce development and I am dedicated to keeping that the standard. Middle Tennessee’s growth has been remarkable and has brought incredible new people and families to our city, but we must prepare diligently to facilitate future growth. I will work with the city of Nashville and our state legislature to be more transparent about how we are assessing this growth and to make certain we are adequately prepared its impact on our great city and state. We must make certain that District 50 is situated to elevate the lives of our residents for years to come. I will lead this effort and cannot wait to get started.