Last Monday night in my eighth and final State of the State address, I issued a bold new challenge to our great state: Tennessee will lead the nation in jobs, education and government efficiency.

When we came into office seven years ago, federal funds were vanishing and we were contending with a billion-dollar hole in the state budget. We had a 9.4 percent unemployment rate and we were in the back of the pack for education.

We have shown in the last seven years that we can compete with any state.

We now have a job growth rate greater than 17 percent, more than the national average of 15.1 percent, with nearly 400,000 net new private sector jobs created since we took office. We have added more than $1.3 billion into K-12 education, with nearly $450 million going to teacher salaries. With our proposed new budget, that will be $1.5 billion invested with $500 million for teacher salaries.

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