NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE) -- WMOT is spending the summer talking with the 2018 mid-term candidates for statewide office. On Monday we spoke with Republican gubernatorial candidate Beth Harwell, currently the Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives.
Our conversation began with education. Rep Harwell noted Tennessee’s children are improving rapidly in math and science, but also says there’s lots of room for improvement.
“Our reading scores are still not where they need to be and literacy is so critical. The next governor is going to need to be known as the reading governor. Because if a child cannot read well they can’t perform well in life.”
On school security Harwell noted lawmakers authorized the state Department of Homeland security to conduct safety reviews in every school in Tennessee and recommend improvements.
Concerning the state’s current opioid crisis, Harwell says she’s now convinced that Tennessee can’t incarcerate its way to a solution.
“We’re going to have to put, and have already, continued support for rehab courts, so that when someone comes in for drug possessions, drug usage, they can be sentenced to a rehab facility as opposed to jail.”
Harwell was quick to blame Obamacare for rising health care costs and insurance premiums. She wants to return health car decision to the individual and says she’d like to see Tennessee do more with health savings plans.
Speaker Harwell notes that Tennessee has some of the lowest taxes in the nation, and says if elected governor this fall it will be her number one priority to ensure those taxes remain low.