Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam served as guest speaker at a town hall meeting hosted by State Rep. Susan Lynn Thursday night.
The meeting, held at the Wilson County Courthouse in Lebanon, drew a large crowd eager to hear the governor's thoughts on education and public safety, with a large portion of time reserved for his proposed gas tax increase.
Haslam said the gas tax was raised to 21-cents in 1988 - and in almost 30 years, the state has collected 21-cents whether gas prices are up or down.
His proposed IMPROVE ACT calls for a 7-cent hike on gasoline and a 12-cent increase on diesel fuel.
"Twenty-one-cents comes to us to pay for road work. We keep 60 percent, and 40 percent goes to local governments for their roads," he explained.
"When you think about roads and bridges, you start with being safe. Tennessee has 20,000 bridges. It is good to be a wet state, particularly for those who love to fish - but it's not so good when you have to build bridges over (water), and they need to be restructured to send school buses over them."
Haslam also addressed opioid addiction rates in Tennessee. He stressed his hopes to put a plan in place to limit substance abuse.
"Don't think that this issue just surrounds one income segment," he said. "It affects families and people throughout the state."
On a positive ntoe, Haslam spoke about the successful "Tennessee Promise" - an initiative launched during his term to offer two years of community college or technical school, tuition-free, to new high school graduates.
Several audience members told Haslam they served as mentors in the program.