bill haslam

Haslam: No budget retaliation against UT for outsourcing rejection; higher ed seeks $102M new funding

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday that his administration won’t retaliate against several University of Tennessee campuses that opted against his effort to privatize facilities management services at higher education institutions, reports the Associated Press.

During budget hearings, Haslam said he’s disappointed with how the process played out, but his administration won’t give less money to higher education because of choices that were left up to each campus.

… “There’s no recrimination from us, in my role as governor, anybody else’s role,” Haslam said. “We meant what we said. This was a tool to use if you found it to be to your benefit.”

The Health Science Center in Memphis is the only UT campus to opt in, but officials there only intend to have the company take over mechanical services that are already outsourced through a consortium with the University of Memphis and Southwest Tennessee Community College.

And The Tennessean has this quote from the governor on the reasons behind outsourcing rejection: “I understand they are subject to the politics of the governor’s office, legislature and campus workers’ union and all sorts of people, but great universities live in the midst of that and work past it.” 

More on the higher education budget hearing from the Times Free Press:

Beginning next fall, new graduates of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology or similar technical programs offering certificates and degrees from state community colleges will come with an eye-catching “warranty” for prospective employers.

If companies can demonstrate the graduates they hire aren’t up to snuff, “we’ll take them back and train them for free,” Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Flora Tydings told Gov. Bill Haslam on Tuesday.

Replied Haslam: “I love the idea. … That’s accountability at its finest.”

… Meanwhile, Tennessee Higher Education Commission Executive Director Mike Krause told the governor he is asking the THEC board to approve holding tuition and fee increases between 0 and 3 percent during the 2018-2019 academic year for the University of Tennessee System, the Board of Regents and six independently governed public universities.

Haslam has made it a priority in the last three years to boost state spending for higher education, reversing a decades-long trend in Tennessee and most states where public higher education has been forced to rely on large tuition and fee increases to make up higher operational costs.

This year, the UT system is seeking a total of $25.94 million in general government dollars for its campuses, which include the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The Board of Regents is asking for $23.84 million, while the locally governed six universities, including Tennessee Tech, are seeking $24.49 million.

The total higher ed request is $102.51 million, which includes various state-administered programs.

UT trustees grumble about ‘slaps in the face’ to Haslam outsourcing plans

Members of the University of Tennessee board of trustees have slammed a decision by UT Knoxville Chancellor Beverly Davenport to not participate in facilities outsourcing even though Davenport argued the university wouldn’t save as much by privatization as promised, reports the News Sentinel.

In a presentation to the board (Friday), Davenport said UT Knoxville would only save $906,654 in the first year of outsourcing with private company Jones Lang LaSalle, compared to the $5.2 million the company estimated.

The university is already making its own improvements in efficiency; an outside company would not be able to handle the complexity of work associated with facilities management in research departments and the change could be harmful to the local economy, Davenport listed as additional reasons for her decision.

Trustees criticized the decision saying it lacked financial justification and would make it hard to go to the state to ask for money in the future.

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State budget hearing notes: Talk of cuts and needs for new spending

As he began hearings on developing a state budget for the coming year, Gov. Bill Haslam said Monday that some departments and agencies may have to make cuts, reports WPLN. At the same time, other media outlets report there were requests from some department for increased spending.

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Haslam sticks to his guns in banning firearms at Capitol

Gov. Bill Haslam said Monday he has no intention of changing his administration’s stance on barring handgun-carry permit holders from bringing their weapons into Tennessee’s state Capitol even though they will be allowed in the Cordell Hull Building where state legislators have offices and hold hearings, reports the Times Free Press.

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Haslam starts budget hearings today after asking recommendations for 2.5 percent cuts

Gov. Bill Haslam begins budget hearings for all major departments and agencies of state government’s executive branch today and they continue through Thursday. As usual under Haslam, each department has been asked to identify where it would implement budget cuts if necessary.

For the coming 2018-19 fiscal year, which will be the final budget prepared by the term-limited governor, the departments and agencies have been asked to identify potential cuts totaling 2.5 percent of discretionary base appropriations. Typically in the past, the actual cuts have been far less than the suggested target figure and the state has enjoyed large surpluses in revenue for the past few years.

As reported in a recent issue of The Tennessee Journal, Finance Commissioner Larry Martin requested cuts of 2%, but the aggregate reduction wound up being 0.7%. Two years earlier, the aggregate cut came to 3.6% after a 7% cut-identifying exercise.

The schedule of hearings, starting with the Department of Children’s Services Monday morning and continuing until the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services on Thursday afternoon, is HERE.

There will also be live video streaming of the hearings HERE and each department’s slide show presentation will be posted at the same website after the presentation, according to the governor’s office.

Reaction to UT outsourcing rejection: Haslam still supports concept as TSEA applauds

Press release statements following the University of Tennessee decision rejecting participation in outsourcing of facilities management services as proposed by Gov. Bill Haslam:

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UT system campuses reject Haslam’s outsourcing plan

University of Tennessee administrators announced Tuesday that they will not be participating in a proposed facilities outsourcing plan pushed by Gov. Bill Haslam, reports the News Sentinel.

The announcements by UT Chattanooga, UT Knoxville, UT Martin and the UT Health Science Center end more than two years of speculation as to whether campuses in the UT system would participate in the plan and raise questions about whether other public campuses across the state will follow suit.

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville Chancellor Beverly Davenport first announced today a decision not to participate in the proposed facilities outsourcing plan in a statement posted on a UT website.

Excerpt:

The goal of the proposed outsourcing plan was to improve efficiencies and determine what is in the best interest of our campus. We thank the state and the UT System administration for challenging us to engage in extensive cost analyses and an evaluation of our practices, which have led to cost-saving operational changes in keeping with the outsourcing goals.

My decision to opt out was based on the extensive analyses of the financial considerations, the complexity of the work done on our research-intensive campus, and our commitment to the East Tennessee economy and our workforce. It is for these reasons that I have decided outsourcing facilities management is not the best option for our campus.

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Katie Ashley appointed top Haslam administration lobbyist

News release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced Katie Ashley will serve as director of legislation, the governor’s chief advisor and strategist for legislative matters.

The Crockett County native is one of the longest serving Haslam staffers, starting out on his campaign in 2009 before becoming a legislative liaison in 2011 and handling one of the governor’s top priorities: education in Tennessee.

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Haslam: TNReady flap overblown; McQueen tells legislators latest problem fixed

Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday that controversy over TNReady testing of students is overblown while  Education Commissioner Candice McQueen and a vendor sought to reassure state legislators that the latest problem has been fixed and won’t happen again, reports the Times Free Press. The most recent troubles involved reporting the wrong scores for 9,400 students statewide.

“While we reported 99 percent of our scoring accurately, that’s not good enough,” McQueen told a joint meeting of the House Education Instruction & Programs and Education Administration & Planning committees. “We expect — we required — 100 percent, and that’s our commitment.”

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TN unemployment rate falls to lowest level ever recorded (again)

News release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips today announced the state unemployment rate fell to 3 percent in September, marking the lowest it has been since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking the information in January of 1976.

Tennessee first marked a historic low unemployment rate in June at 3.6 percent, which was bested by the July rate of 3.4 percent, and then fell even lower in August to 3.3 percent.

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