Nashville Mayor-elect John Cooper says he wants to improve the relationship between the city and the heavily Republican state legislature. He says it’s been “needlessly hostile” in recent years.
So one of Cooper’s first acts after winning in a landslide last week was to have lunch with Republican Gov. Bill Lee.
“We’re trying to chart a new direction,” Cooper said. “Frankly, I asked the governor: We need more money here in Nashville, will you help us do that?”
Specifically, Cooper said he wants more money to go into Metro Schools to raise teacher pay. And he has hung many of his spending goals on getting more tax dollars from the state.
Yet last year, Nashville received relatively little in increased education funding. And in recent years, the trend has been a state legislature that overrides Nashville policies. Cooper acknowledges the track record.
“We are not going to agree. We are a blue dot in a red state. But that doesn’t mean we’re not both committed to serving our citizens,” he said.
And Cooper believes that even Republican lawmakers want to see the city do well, since it benefits the entire state economically.
Cooper has been consistent on his attitudes about the legislature throughout the campaign, having previously told WPLN that he doesn’t want to “bicker our way to failure.”
WPLN’s Chas Sisk contributed to this report.