Tennessee receives about $8 billion/year in federal funding for TennCare, which provides healthcare to about 1.4M vulnerable Tennesseans (low-income children, children in state custody, pregnant women, seniors and people with disabilities), but the government doesn’t spend it! Instead, Tennessee has already forfeited billions of federal dollars for years by not expanding Medicaid under the ACA to cover roughly 300,000 uninsured individuals who don't currently qualify for TennCare.
We can prevent hospital closures and deaths by expanding Medicaid and investing in the health of our community.
A voucher system takes students and dollars away from public schools, which disproportionately impacts the neediest students who are left at under-enrolled and under-funded schools. This process exacerbates racial and socioeconomic isolation, because it has grown untethered from the original intention of school choice which was to create diversity and socioeconomic balance. If state legislators committed to fully funding the public school system, we could safely reopen schools during COVID-19, since schools would have more money for masks, sanitizer, and other provisions. I support repealing Governor Lee’s voucher bill passed by the General Assembly in April 2019.
Building off the momentum of the current Black Lives Matter movement, we must stop over-investing in law enforcement and embrace thoughtful reforms to our criminal justice system. I support the following possible strategies: ban local law enforcement from accepting military equipment and incorporate less aggressive tactics and strategies into police curriculum like banning chokeholds and other harmful practices. We must treat drug problems as health issues, not criminal issues. I support the legalization of medical marijuana, decriminalization of low level drug offenses, and early release to incarcerated offenders.
We must increase the minimum wage to at least $12 or $15 an hour, even for servers and those who make less than minimum. We must increase workplace safety, protections for workers, fight against right to work (right to fire for no particular reason), and stop wage theft in all forms. It’s an abomination that, in this country, men continue to be paid more, on average, than women for the same job, as do white people vs. people of color. I will fight for pay equity for all genders and races.
I believe in ensuring women’s access to a safe abortion. It is hypocritical for Republicans to call themselves “pro-life,” as they strip reproductive healthcare away from millions of low-income people, watch silently as maternal mortality rates skyrocket, especially among black women, deny affordable healthcare coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, block access to HIV testing and treatment across the globe, and cut programs that feed hungry kids. If Republicans wanted women to choose to proceed with their pregnancy, it would make more sense for them to focus on improving resources for unwed or single mothers who don’t have the support to care for their children. I will fight to maintain reproductive rights and fund the social service programs that allow families to care for their children.
The COVID crisis has revealed the lack of a safety net in our government. As the crisis continues and people lose their jobs, their health insurance, and become evicted from their homes, now more than ever we need competent and compassionate leadership. Governor Lee and the General Assembly continue to focus on their pet projects like vouchers, banning abortion, permitless carry of small firearms (something every major law enforcement organization in the state is against), and restricting the rights of LGBTQ couples. Instead, they should use their billion dollar “rainy day fund” to focus on increasing funding for struggling small businesses and for the poorly funded unemployment compensation fund, providing PPE for all of our frontline healthcare workers, and providing guaranteed paid sick leave for all workers. If elected, I will fight for the health and well-being of the people of Tennessee.