Pressure continues to mount across Tennessee for Gov. Bill Haslam to follow through on his proposal to raise teacher salaries in the state. Last fall, Haslam said he wanted to boost teacher pay, and his initial budget included a small hike across the board. Now, however, the governor has withdrawn that plan, drawing fire from Gera Summerford, a Sevier County math teacher and president of the Tennessee Education Association.
“The governor made a public announcement several months ago that his intent was to make Tennessee’s salaries for teachers the fastest-growing in the nation – and then this budget does not include that,” Summerford said. “We anticipated a 2 percent increase and it’s not there.”
Haslam said he still thinks it’s important to invest in education, but the state must close a $160 million budget gap. A big part of that shortfall is from sales and business tax collections that were below expectations, and Summerford said that drop in state revenue must be closely examined.
“I think that this drop in the corporate taxes is something that needs to be investigated,” Summerford said. “We’re certainly looking for some answers to questions we have raised, because if the governor says it’s where all the drop has come from, then that’s something we need to look more closely at.”
Haslam is also said to be abandoning his plans for a small wage hike for state workers and funding increases for the state’s colleges and universities.
Partner Station WMSR