NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Governor Bill Lee announced new funding for school safety, including $140 million for public schools to hire highly-trained school resource officers and custodians, a new grant fund for public and non-public schools, and increased funding from the health. This marks the first live public comment for the Governor since The Covenant school shooting.
In the days after the tragedy that claimed the life of six people, including three childrenRallying cries for gun control have been heard on the Tennessee State Capitol grounds, as well as inside the Capitol building.
On Monday in the morning, thousands of students across Nashville walked out of class at 10:13 a.m.exactly one week after Metro police received the first 911 call from The Covenant School and headed to the Capitol to call for action against gun violence.
Last Thursday, three days after the shooting, a grassroots rally drew thousands of parents and other community members to the Capitol as they clashed with lawmakers who began the legislative session that morning.
Last Tuesday, one day after the events at the Covenant School, Lee took to YouTube to address the mass shooting.
In his speech, Lee mourned the loss of the six victims, saying, “some parents woke up without children, children woke up without parents and teachers, and spouses woke up without loved ones.”
The Governor announced that the $140 million budget amendment would take the burden of school safety off of teachers, schools and school districts.
“There is no excuse for not having a guard at every school,” the governor said.
The new grant fund will allow schools to make “significant physical safety improvements” at public and non-public schools across the state, he added.
Third, the increase in funding for mental health resources would double the current amount of funding the state has for mental health liaisons. The increased funding would expand the number of links from just one in each county to multiple in counties across the state.
Before today’s announcement, the governor said this year’s budget included funding for a Homeland Security agent in each county to “prevent threats before they become tragedies.” In addition, the budget would have increased accountability around school security to ensure that exterior doors are locked at all times while students are in the classroom.
One thing the governor did not specifically mention was any kind of gun control. Instead, the governor said there was a “need for serious conversation about school safety.”
“Together, the leadership in our office and the General Assembly are working to find a way forward to pursue not only the solutions we are presenting today, but also solutions that will be worked on together in the coming weeks to make our state a safer place. . so that all of our children can go home safely after school,” the governor said.
When asked if he would support a gun control measure known as “red flag” law, Lee said one thing everyone would probably agree on was that “a person who is a threat to himself or a threat to others should not have access to weapons. ”, but he said that he wanted to find a way to achieve it without infringing on constitutional rights.
“To the extent that we can do that, protect the constitutional rights of our people at the same time, including that person, the way we do it together is the way to go,” he said. “We should look at ways to achieve that.”
Lee said he and others in the legislature would likely look at legislation in other states to determine what future measures would work best for Tennesseans.
“There would be an opportunity to look across the country at ways that we can do that, which is to make sure that those who are a threat to our people, to our children, don’t have access to guns, protecting the constitutional rights of children. Tennesseans at the same time. That is the way to go,” he said.
While Lee’s plan seeks to add an SRO to every school in Tennessee, the governor also addressed questions about staffing issues and officer shortages.
“We recognize that law enforcement recruitment is very difficult, but the first step is to remove restrictions from a district. The first is the money involved in hiring one of these officers. We will work together with the districts to work together with the local law enforcement agencies to find them,” he said.