HFTN Responds to the "State of the State"

On Monday February 8th at 6pm, Governor Bill Lee took the stage at the War Memorial Auditorium to address the Tennessee General Assembly and the people of the state. His pre-shared talking points emphasized budgetary priorities, celebrating 225 years of statehood, improving K-12 education, investing in rural communities, and what he described as a “pro-life and pro-family” agenda. What followed was a lengthy recounting of the state’s fiscal solvency, with only a brief mention of the human impacts of the multiple tragedies Tennesseeans have faced this past year. While Governor Lee demonstrated his prowess with a calculator, he paid little attention to the suffering of Tennesseeans.

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What the TANF "Surplus" Really Means for Low Income Families

When I think of the word surplus, I think of plentiful harvests, extra money, and fulfilled and nourished communities. I don’t think of ranking 9th of all states in highest rates of child poverty, 8th in extreme child poverty, and 4th in extreme poverty for children under 6 years old. Despite these horrifying figures, a Beacon Center report released last year revealed that the Tennessee Department of Human Services has amassed over $700 million of funds intended to alleviate poverty for these families: what some are now calling the TANF “surplus.” In reality, it is anything but.

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What Was So Special About The Special Session?

Last week, the Governor convened a special session to address growing concerns about education in Tennessee. Originally touted as resulting from the pandemic, teachers, parents, and legislators have long had concerns about Tennessee’s education system. U.S. News and World Reports ranks Tennessee 35th in education in the country.

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Welcome, Elena Ferguson!

We are so very excited to have Elena joining us as an If/When/How RJ Policy Fellow for the 2020-2021 fellowship year!

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