With the state's collections bringing in less money than what has been estimated during much of the last year, Tennessee Bill Haslam says he won't be able to give state employees and teachers a pay increase next year.
The 2% pay raises for teachers and 1% for other state workers had been a key part of the Governor's budget proposal earlier this year, but they are being eliminated as part of a budget amendment to the governor's proposal that will be filed this week.
The raises for educators came under the idea that higher test scores achieved by students should translate into higher pay for teachers.
“That goal has not gone away,” said the governor in his briefing with reporters. “But we have to deal with the realities we have.”
When asked further about the reduction to what he proposed, the governor said his 2014-15 budget still includes $62 million more in K-12 spending than the current fiscal year budget.
The Republican governor discussed his budget proposal with reporters on Monday shortly after meeting with legislative leaders.
State finance commissioner Larry Martin is scheduled to present the measure to legislative finance committees on Tuesday.
Haslam said the poor revenue collections are forcing him to make $150 million in reductions for the remainder of this budget year, and $160 million for next year.
Financial officials said sales tax collections have fallen short by $33 million, and franchise and excise taxes, also known as business tax collections, are down $215 million.
It's just not the state workers' pay raises that will be eliminated as part of the budget amendment.
The state's higher education system will not be getting a proposed $12.9 million budget increase as originally proposed in the governor's spending plan.
For the current year, the governor said the $150 million shortfall will be closed out by a combination of “efficiencies” in various state departments and several reserve funds.
House Democrats late Monday afternoon responded in a statement that was critical of the governor's proposal.
“The Governor's budget represents a broken promise to the people of Tennessee. We should not be balancing the budget on the backs of parents, teachers, state employees, colleges and universities, and countless other hard-working Tennesseans. The budget presented to us shows misplaced priorities that ignore the need to focus on jobs, education and people,” said House Democratic leader Craig Fitchburg.