Gov.-elect Bill Lee says he’s got a lot of work to do. In his first press conference Wednesday, the businessman — who’s never before held public office — said he’s now figuring out his agenda.
Throughout the governor’s campaign, Lee was lauded for running a positive and optimistic campaign. But he was also criticized for failing to be specific on his policy priorities.
During a joint appearance with Gov. Bill Haslam at the Tennessee State Capitol, Lee said he’s been focused on the election and hasn’t had a chance to hammer out the details.
"But that’s behind us," said Lee. "That phase of this journey for us is over, and now we have much work to do."
Lee has said during the campaign that he wants to cut Medicaid spending, strengthen vocational education and reform the criminal justice system. But he didn’t mention any policy actions. He’s also going to have to start working immediately on the state budget, which is due in the spring.
One potential part of his agenda, he says, could be to cut some government departments or positions.
"Streamling and running an efficient state government is very important, so we’ll begin looking at opportunities and ways to do that," Lee told reporters Wednesday. "We will immediately begin to interview and talk to current commissioners and begin to consider what those positions will look like."
Lee has the support of Haslam, who says he’s going to put together a transition plan for the governor-elect. Haslam also said he thinks Lee's business experience has prepared him for the role.
"There are a couple of things from a business background that are really helpful," said Haslam. "Understanding budgets — that’s the fundamental foundation. It’s incredibly helpful. And building a team."