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TN Politics: Gov. Lee Plays Defense in Latest Speech; Priorities Questioned

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Tennessee Governor Bill Lee delivered his third annual State of the State address this week, promising massive funding so rural areas can get broadband Internet and new mothers on TennCare might receive more postpartum care. 

But the governor also struck a defensive note on his leadership during the pandemic -- leadership which he said was based on handing control over to local authorities. Shelby County officials have subsequently criticized the governor for his efforts to intervene in local decision making, such as whether urban students should be forced back into classrooms. 

Another controversy arose over the state's so-called rainy day fund, which has ballooned to $1.5 billion. Gov. Lee suggested adding another $50 million to it, while Democrats argue that the pandemic should qualify as a "rainy day" type of spending need, perhaps to help taxpayers who have lost their businesses or jobs.   

Reporting from the gates of Graceland to the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, Christopher's favorite haunt is the intersection of history and cultural change. He is WKNO's News Director and Senior Producer at the University of Memphis' Institute for Public Service Reporting. Join his conversations about the Memphis arts scene on the WKNO Culture Desk Facebook page.