DR. JASON MARTIN
ON THE ISSUES
A Note From Jason
I believe that the values uniting Tennesseans are more powerful than the politics that seek to divide us. I know that together, we THRIVE. That means having a more efficient government that works for all people to help us solve big problems.
No matter your zip code, the color of your skin, or how much money you have in the bank, Tennessee should be the home of opportunity, the home of safe communities, the home of students who advance in modern and fully funded schools, the home of commerce that thrives on advanced infrastructure, the home of a healthy and well-trained workforce, and the home of a nimble, lean and efficient government that helps people solve problems together.
Common sense should trump political gamesmanship, and Tennessee is the home of the best people in this country, all of whom are working together to create a better future. Together, Tennessee thrives.
Governor Lee has failed at making sure that all Tennesseans are healthy. I see this every day in the hospital, as life and death decisions are made based on whether someone can afford the necessary treatment and medicines to recover from an illness or accident. I want to make sure every Tennessean is well enough to have an education, plan for a future career and live up to their full potential.
Moreover, we have already paid our fair share to fund Medicaid but we have a governor who refuses to send that money back to our communities. Medicaid expansion is not just something we have already paid for, but is necessary to make sure our state can thrive. We could cover as many as 400,000 more working Tennesseans by fully participating in the program, and we need to do that to keep our workforce healthy and productive. Getting back our hard earned Medicaid dollars would help reestablish some of our many closed hospitals, emergency rooms and clinics. We cannot continue to lead the nation in per capita hospital closures and medical bankruptcies. We must do better to create a healthy and prosperous Tennessee.
I have a record of leadership not just in public health, but in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic on the ground and making sure our small businesses recover. It is shameful that more than 24,000 Tennesseans have died from COVID.
As an ICU doctor, I have spent the last two years in the trenches fighting the virus. When I am governor, I want to make sure we beat this pandemic using science, sound thinking, and a plan to get us back to living our lives as normally as possible. We need a leader, not someone who is just following the political winds.
Protecting the health and reproductive rights of women across the state is not just important, but the right thing to do. There are widespread attacks on women’s rights and as a physician, it is important to me that we make sure women have full control over their reproductive rights. However, as a society we need to go further. We need to make sure that women are supported in their decisions, that mothers are supported with childcare and healthcare, and that we make sure we do not judge anyone for the choices they make. The current administration and legislature have shown a blatant disregard for women’s rights and the healthcare workers who are there for Tennesseans. Under my administration, we will make sure that everyone is protected and respected.
Tennessee needs high quality infrastructure in the form of highways, bridges, sewer and stormwater systems, roads and universal broadband.
Our roads and bridges are in need of repair and help, and tens of thousands of Tennesseans are willing to answer the call to make that happen. However, the current administration has not supported federal efforts to help us improve our infrastructure. We need to make sure that Tennessee can work with any administration to fix this problem. I will make sure we bring back the nearly eight billion of our tax dollars to improve our communities.
For years, we have heard about increased broadband access, only to see politicians fail to bring this important utility to everyone across the state. Without increased broadband, how can we expect people to take advantage of telehealth appointments, small businesses to increase their customer base, students to use additional online resources, or parents and grandparents to see loved ones who don’t live near them?
I am running for governor to ensure we do better for our children. Tennessee ranks 45th in the nation in per-pupil spending, and has received an ‘F’ in school funding. On average, we don’t spend nearly as much on our schools as other states in our region. I recognize that what works for one community may not work for another, and the way our state has looked at education is outdated. We need a better way to fund our schools, taking into account the different economies across communities and the different resources that are needed in each school district. We need to reevaluate the Basic Education Program, and make sure that going forward, no school in Tennessee is underfunded. This includes hiring teachers and paying them a fair salary. It also includes increasing the necessary resources schools used to depend on to keep kids healthy, educated and safe – resources such as social workers, after school programs and guidance counselors.
Many Tennesseans also look to trade and vocational schools, training programs and apprenticeships, and 2- and 4-year colleges and universities to achieve their goals. This means increased incentives for trade programs, certifications, future nurses and healthcare workers, and technical training for a more technologically competitive workforce. It also means strengthening our Historical Black Colleges and Universities system so that every single student has access to the same opportunities.
While growth has been steady, we know that we could have done more to attract businesses and manufacturing to the area, while also making sure our economy reflected the needs of Tennesseans. By working with the Department of Economic and Community Development, I will improve our business climate to make sure more companies feel comfortable in Tennessee. One of the main obstacles to more growth has been the ability for Tennessee to be more inclusive and therefore attractive to a variety of businesses – this is something I can bring to the state to make sure we finally reach our potential.
My emphasis on vocational training and the Tennessee College of Applied Technology system is another way we can make sure our workforce can fulfill the needs of the future. Similarly, making sure that we prioritize hard working farmers and promote our state’s products are just a few ways we can get around burdensome tariffs that have held many back.
Tennessee is the most beautiful state in the nation, and we need to make sure that future generations can enjoy the outdoors just as we have, while we protect our environment. Our timber industry and other businesses are looking for responsible environmental policies. That means focusing on conservation, whether it be in protecting hunting and wildlife grounds in White County, addressing the issues at the Bristol Landfill, protecting our drinking water from pollution, preserving our great treasures in the Smoky Mountains, and growing an economy that reflects responsible environmental stewardship. That economy is also where we can be leaders in this nation and across the world, and make sure that our state is at the forefront of green technology.
Lake County took the initiative to invest in land, attract a company to install solar technology, and is now using that tax revenue that resulted from that growth to build better schools and keep high paying, skilled jobs in the community. Let’s do this across the state while attracting companies like Cadillac and Ford which are building the foundations of their electric car divisions, and value green spaces and quality of life for their employees.
Pass cannabis for recreational use. Period. Decriminalize small drug offenses. This is a bipartisan issue, and as a governor for all Tennesseans, I will make sure that we do not lag behind on this issue. I want to legalize marijuana as 15 states have already done. As a result of legalization, those 15 states have taken power away from drug cartels and raised significant amounts of money for various programs including the education system. Opening up the cannabis market will also bring millions of dollars to communities across the state, allow farmers to take part in this lucrative sector, and employ thousands across this state in this new market.
Legalizing marijuana also provides valuable benefits to people who suffer from various ailments, small businesses who take part in the new market, farmers who can now grow a crop that helps their bottom line, school systems across all communities that benefit from the increased revenues, the overburdened criminal justice system, and a way out of opioid dependency. Our neighbor, Arkansas, has already legalized marijuana and is on track to bringing in nearly $60 million in funds for its communities.
Families are what make Tennessee great and are what we need to focus on if we want to do better. This means universal pre-K so every child has equal access to the education system. We also need to make sure that parents are able to work while knowing that their children are looked after in a safe and responsible manner. When I am governor, I will make sure all parents have access to quality and affordable childcare – something that will help our children and our economy.
Finally, we need to make sure that expecting parents can spend time with their children, something we know is important for the relationship between a parent and child, and that parents can attend to the emergencies that come up from time to time. We must do better to make sure paid parental leave is something every Tennessean has access to. Without these policies, families across the state will continue to be at a disadvantage, and this is something we simply cannot allow to happen.
“Right to work” has hindered our economic growth. There are those who say we are doing incredibly well, but because of “right to work”, we didn’t do as well as we could have. I oppose the “right to work” amendment to the state constitution, and so do manufacturers in this country. As governor, I intend to attract many more jobs and factories to this state and make sure we live up to that potential.
Unions are not just part of the economy, but are also responsible for making sure that we have a voice for workers against corporations who have deep pockets. The efforts of unions have also benefited people in all professions in the form of safe work environments, reasonable work expectations, and pay that values the work we all do. We need to make sure that Tennessee is a place that values workers, while also being attractive to companies who depend on unions for their labor.
Our criminal justice system is broken. We need to take serious steps to make sure communities feel safe and that individuals are treated fairly. This means making sure that police departments have the right resources to address the situations they may face. It means reducing the sentences for non-violent drug offenders, which can help people have a second chance and not destroy a life based on one mistake. It means that we make sure judges are not sentencing children to facilities that financially benefit them. It means having oversight of private prisons to make sure that they live up to the values we have as Tennesseans. It means looking at restorative justice that makes sure those who are convicted make restitution to the community, and also feel a part of that same community. It means that we mediate or use diversionary courts when we can, and find ways to rehabilitate and reintegrate, and not immediately push for mandatory minimum sentences that add to the recidivism rate. It means standing against slavery as a punishment. Finally, it means we take a more humane approach to people who are not career criminals, and deserve a second chance. We can do better for all our communities and make sure the justice system once again is fair and equitable.
We need to make sure that we protect our children and communities from gun violence, while also upholding our second amendment rights. The overwhelming majority of Tennesseans are responsible gun owners, and as such, can support bipartisan efforts to keep guns out of the hands of violent criminals and those who commit domestic violence. We can make sure we continue the traditions of safe gun ownership and safeguarding our society that we have all grown up with.
Similarly, we need to make sure that schools have the resources necessary to identify people who need help before they take the next step to do harm. Part of this is to repeal permitless carry, and use existing regulation to make sure we don’t penalize responsible gun owners while still keeping our state safe.
Emergency Risk Protection Orders allow people to feel safe in their own home, especially when at risk for interpersonal violence or other criminal behavior. These orders have to go through many levels of oversight and are just one way we can make sure that we reduce gun violence in the state. Tennessee is among the leaders in murders related to domestic violence, and we cannot sit idly while many members of our community are taken from us in such a heinous way.
Let’s agree that the right to vote is sacred. We need to make sure we have elections that are credible, secure, safe, and most importantly, allow eligible Tennesseans who want to vote to do so. As governor, I will ensure every eligible voter can access the ballot box and have a say in the future of our state.
I support same day registration and voting, and expanding the types of identification required to register. I believe that we should expand polling locations to make sure that people can cast their ballot conveniently, and during a busy work day. This includes polling locations on college campuses and encouraging high schoolers who turn 18 to register. Nearly 75 percent of all students at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville are from Tennessee – but many of them cannot leave during the middle of the semester to come home for a day to vote.
Finally, I do not believe that you should be excluded from voting just because you chose to stay home during the last two elections. There are many reasons why someone might not vote, and it’s their right to make that choice just as much as it is their right to start voting again. We should make sure those students, and many others, are not left out of this important civic right.
One of the primary responsibilities of government is to protect those who need protecting, and provide a voice to those who feel silenced. We need to make sure that we protect our LGBTQIA+ Tennesseans. These hard working, integral members of our communities have often been silenced and marginalized, and under my administration I will make sure that they are valued and heard. I am running for governor because I believe that we need to stand up for everyone, and let people live their lives without big government infringement. There is more than one type of family, and they all have love.
Tennesseans value people, and understand that our differences are what make us better and stronger. We must do more to provide support for our immigrant and refugee communities, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because these newer Tennesseans bring with them skills and culture that add to our vibrant and beautiful state.
As the next governor, I will work with our state Congressional delegation and national partners to pursue long-lasting solutions that benefit our Tennessee economy. We all succeed when we thrive, and make sure that all communities feel supported and understand what opportunities they have to succeed, and take part in our civic and business institutions. This is our responsibility as an open and welcoming people.