Gov. Bill Haslam’s decision to delay teacher and state employee raises for a year is drawing ire from the statewide association that represents educators.
Tennessee Education Association President Gera Summerford said in a press statement that Haslam’s cuts to teacher salaries and higher education continue the state’s race to the bottom in education funding.
“Accountability – that is all we hear from the governor and other state officials when it comes to public education. Where is their accountability?” Summerford said in the release. “State leaders need to be held accountable for the abysmal job they are doing in taking care of our students and teachers.”
Last year, Haslam said he wanted to give Tennessee teachers the biggest raise in the country over the next five years and initially proposed in February this year a 2 percent increase for teachers and a 1 percent increase for other state employees in his $30 billion budget, according to the Tennessean.
In October, Haslam tweeted
Teachers are the key to classroom success & we're seeing real progress.We want to be the fastest improving state in teacher salaries.#TNedu— Bill Haslam (@BillHaslam) October 3, 2013
In the article, Haslam told critics that he had not abandoned that goal.
“My priorities haven’t changed at all,” he said. “If the funds were there, that was our full intent.”
The state has received $33 million less in sales taxes than it expected and business projections are off by $215 million this year. State officials are unsure of the reason for the deficits, according to the article.
The Tennesseean also reported that state’s budget shortfall is impacting the state’s colleges and universities, which will not receive a $12.9 million increase to the budget, and TennCare, which will be cut by $25 million. Haslam believes the state will save $4.75 million by renegotiating contracts with private administrators of the state’s welfare program, Families First. In addition, Haslam is planning to put $35.5 million in the state’s “Rainy Day Fund” and continue with his proposal to adjust the state’s Hope scholarship to encourage more Tennessee high school students to enroll in community college.
Budget cuts are not expected to impact the Department of Children’s Services or the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
Haslam said the budget cuts will not result in any layoffs, according to the Tennessean.