Haslam budget gives pay raises to teachers, state employees; spends $655 million on building construction & maintenance

Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposes spending $37 billion in the 2017-18 fiscal year, which is about 4.8 percent more than in the current fiscal year. The money includes about $18 billion in federal funds.

Here are some of the highlights:

–There’s new money (about $100 million) to cover a 4 percent pay raise for K-12 public school teachers, if spread across the board to all – though school systems can distribute the funds so some get bigger pay raises than others.  Schools would also get an extra $22 million for English language learning programs.

–There’s funding for all state employees (including those in higher education) to get a 3 percent pay raises if handled across the board plus $23 million for “market adjustment” pay raises in some job categories.

–There is $655 million for building construction and maintenance across state government and higher education.

–As announced before, $279 million extra would be spent on highway construction and maintenance with money generated from an increase in gasoline and diesel fuel taxes. Another $135 million from revenue overcollections would go to road construction on a one-time basis as a “payback” of money taken from the road fund in previous years.

–TennCare spending would increase by $214 million.

to cover increased costs for TennCare, the state’s expanded Medicaid program covering 1.5 million Tennesseans.

–The state’s “rainy day fund” would receive $132 million, building total money set aside to a record $800 million.

–There is $60 million in new money allocated for economic development and jobs training grants plus $21 million earmarked under Haslam’s plan for programs intended to spur economic development in rural areas. And, as previously announced, there’s $45 million in grants to subsidize expansion of broadband in rural areas.

–15 million for career and technology education equipment.

–15 million for the state’s aeronautics economic development fund.

–$12 million to fund substance abuse and crisis intervention treatment and service.

–8 million to buy a new rescue helicopter and $1.7 million to pay for new fire trucks.

–$3.5 million to hire 27 positions in state prosecutors’ offices and 18 in public defenders’ offices.

–3.4 million to hire and outfit 25 new Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers.

One Response to Haslam budget gives pay raises to teachers, state employees; spends $655 million on building construction & maintenance

  • Michael Lottman says:

    $100 million will not result in very big raises for teachers in 95 counties, and the state is still not meeting its obligations under the BEP. Raising the gas tax is a good move but the amount will only make a small dent in what is needed, and what’s more it will probably have to be offset by reduction of business or other taxes (or programs), which is just stupid. Free community college for adults as well as kids is a good idea, but of course it is not “free”–somebody has to pay for it. Meanwhile, there is no credible information as to how kids are doing in community college under TN Promise, whether they are staying in school and moving on to four-year colleges, or whether they are even ready for that next step. And you know–guess what? Everyone doesn’t have to have a bachelor’s degree. There is such a thing as career education that can be part of the comprehensive high school curriculum, but just $15 million is devoted to that despite all the lip service it receives. The fact is that once again, there is not enough money in this budget to meet the basic needs of Tennesseans–note that nothing was said about health care–but there are no tax increases (unless you count the gas tax, which will probably not happen or will be a net nothing) and bizarrely, no issuance of bonds (because of some ancient superstition) to address the gaping needs for infrastructure maintenance and new avenues of public transportation. Remember, too, that all these taxes we are gaily reducing this year because of huge surpluses will be all but impossible to restore in the future. Haslam is leaving the state’s next governor is desperate straits, and he knows it.

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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