NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Tennessee's last governor commended the state's direction and defended Governor Bill Lee's controversial plan for free airfare for visitors, Monday.
At the Southern Legislative Conference held in Nashville, former governor Bill Haslam talked with hundreds of lawmakers from southern states. The event is meant to allow legislators a place to talk about policies and strategies for creating laws.
Haslam said he was brought in to give perspective on life after having served in office.
He said his main message was for lawmakers to take advantage of their time in office by making changes to benefit their communities, rather than trying to gain political attention.
"What I really want to communicate to this group is use this time to solve problems," he said. "I think the big problem is people look at government and say nobody's actually trying to solve real problems. They're just out trying to get attention. They have the chance to solve big problems that face us."
Haslam praised Tennessee's current course by pointing out the state's strong financial position and job opportunities. He did suggest the state could do better on infrastructure, though beliefs so for the whole country.
When asked about Governor Bill Lee, Haslam said he thought the sitting governor was doing a good job. When pressed about the decision to use tax-payer dollars to fly-in visitors, he wouldn't say whether he agreed with the policy, but defended the governor.
"One of the things I learned while being in office is you understand all of the sides of an issue better than when you're outside," he said. "While I was in office, there were things that I did that people didn't understand. But we felt like we're in the middle of this, we trust all of the purposes and I trust Governor Lee to make good decisions about this," he said.