State Representative Mike Sparks (R-Smyrna) wrote a letter to President Donald Trump related to the president's visit last week.
Below is a copy of what was stated by Rep. Sparks:
Dear President Trump,
It was a great honor to have you visit the great state of Tennessee earlier this week. As you may know, Tennesseans overwhelming supported you during the last election, and we are proud of what you have already been able to accomplish as our Commander-in-chief.
Your leadership on several vital issues reflects your previous successes in the business world, including when you turned around the Wollman Skating Rink in Central Park. While New York City wasted $13 million over a six-year period on this project, you were able to complete it in a little over four months and even came in under budget.
We have our own version of Wollman Skating Rink Park -- Tennessee State Route 840. This project dragged on for almost 26 years at a ridiculous cost to taxpayers and is still not entirely completed. I am committed to improving Tennessee's roads and bridges, but we must do so without raising taxes on the backs of Tennesseans. I believe we can learn a great deal from you and how you handled the completion of Wollman Skating Rink when we consider similar projects like 840 in the years ahead.
I am pleased to share with you that our Republican-led General Assembly cut burdensome regulations and saved Tennesseans more of their hard-earned money this year by beginning the process of eliminating federally mandated vehicle emissions testing. We did this after the Department of Environment & Conservation (TDEC) released a report last year revealing that all 95 of our counties now meet federal air quality health standards. Now that Governor Bill Haslam has signed House Bill 1782, all we need is a waiver from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to eliminate this time consuming and outdated testing requirement for our working families. Would you be willing to support our efforts to obtain the waiver from the EPA?
I know you are very busy working to increase access to college while making it more affordable for those who wish to pursue their educational goals and dreams in life beyond high school. Student loan debt has increased by more than $500 billion in five short years, now totaling an astounding $1,533 trillion. In fact, the average student loan debt for Class of 2017 graduates was $39,400 -- up six percent from the previous year.
In Tennessee, we have increased college accessibility and reduced cost burdens through scholarship programs like Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect. Through the Drive to 55 initiative, Tennessee is the first state in the entire nation to offer all kids and adults access to community college free of tuition and fees. The best part is we have accomplished all of this without raising taxes on our hardworking men, women, and families. I think similar programs could benefit other states and our entire nation when it comes to helping citizens achieve their academic aspirations without fear of financial struggle.
Finally, I want to ask that you continue to look for new solutions to improve the quality of care for our aging seniors. I also hope that you will further support our medical and scientific professionals as they work towards cures related to cancer and other crippling illnesses that are claiming the lives of so many of our family and friends.
My sister was diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was 29. She is now 56, and she recently fell, hit her head, and is currently in a coma. Although she has faithfully paid her monthly premiums, her provider is refusing to pay for any type of long-term care, which is completely unacceptable to me and my family. These types of occurrences have become all too commonplace for many across our nation today, and I believe we can work together -- universities, researchers, entrepreneurs, medical facilities, and providers -- to pave the way for medical breakthroughs while also improving patient costs. We can do all of this without sacrificing the quality of health care our fellow Americans receive.
You see, here in Tennessee, our citizens have established fruitful partnerships with their elected officials, businesses, community leaders and organizations in efforts to create an environment where our entire state is truly thriving in many areas. In fact, Tennessee has become a model for our entire nation to follow on many important issues, and I am proud of our recent accomplishments under Republican leadership.
I look forward to continuing dialogue and working with you, as well as those who serve our great state in Washington. Thank you for your work Making America Great Again!
Tennessee General Assembly
District 49, Smyrna, TN