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Tennessee lawmakers end their session after approving a $1.9 billion tax cut and refund for businesses

Randy McNall (Via Andrew Brownlee/Shutterstock)

The GOP-controlled General Assembly of Tennessee ended its session on Thursday after months of intense political disagreements that led to the defeat of Republican Governor Bill Lee’s plan for universal school vouchers.

However, lawmakers approved a bill allowing some teachers to carry guns in public schools, as well as a nearly $2 billion tax cut and refund for businesses, just before adjourning for the year.

Governor Lee had made universal school vouchers his top legislative priority, emphasizing the need for lawmakers to also pass the significant tax cut and refund to avoid potential legal challenges alleging violations of the U.S. Constitution.

The legislative session was marked by lingering tensions from the previous year, during which debates on gun control and safety measures had left deep divisions between the Senate and House.

Bill Lee speaks at the conference (Via Jerry Little/Getty Images)

The session also saw controversy over the expulsion of two young Black Democratic lawmakers, resulting in new rules limiting speaking times for certain House members during debates and restrictions on seating in public galleries.

Democratic Senator Raumesh Akbari described the session as having its share of positives, negatives, and contentious issues, noting that some particularly problematic bills were passed.

While Governor Lee did not succeed in gaining consensus on his voucher proposal, he did manage to secure a last-minute agreement on the substantial $1.9 billion tax cut and refund for businesses. This amount represents nearly 4% of the state’s $52.8 billion budget, which predominantly does not include tax reductions for most Tennesseans.

Governor Lee expressed satisfaction with the legislative outcomes, emphasizing that the session achieved measures that will benefit the people of Tennessee.

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