Governor Bill Haslam delivered the State of the State Address tonight–the first of his second term as Governor. The yearly address is an important part of the legislative process, formalizing the Governor’s policy priorities and setting the tone for the next few months of legislative debate and action.
The Governor made clear that his focus will remain steadfast on education.
“I truly believe that getting education right is critical to the well-being of our state – today and in the future. We have to keep going full speed ahead. We can’t afford to go backwards. We’ve come too far to sell ourselves short. It would be an injustice to our students, to our teachers, to Tennessee families, and to ourselves,” Haslam said.
Notable higher education investments the Governor mentioned include:
- $260 million for capital projects, including the land acquisition for the UT Institute for Agriculture’s 4-H Camp and Conference Center and a new science facility at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville,
- $25 million to fully fund the Complete College Act formula; and
- $10 million for need-based scholarships for students;
The Governor also spoke of specific workforce development investments geared to helping achieve the Drive to 55 Initiative. These include:
- $2.5 million for statewide outreach efforts geared toward adult students, technical assistance to local communities that are finding ways to support adult learners, and a one-stop portal for adults;
- $2.5 million to support the success of the SAILS (Seamless Alignment and Integrated Learning Support) program which addresses remediation in high school;
- $1.5 million to provide last dollar scholarships to adults with some post-secondary credit to attend community college;
- $1 million to establish competitive grants to 2-year and 4-year institutions to develop initiatives specifically designed for veterans; and
- $400,000 to establish the Tennessee Promise Bridge Program, which will bring first-generation college students to campus prior to fall enrollment, which is one more step in making sure they have the best chance possible to succeed.
Other highlights of the budget include:
- $48 million for state employee pay raises and compensation tied to performance and ongoing market adjustments; and
- $36.5 million dollars for the Rainy Day Fund to bring it to $528 million.
We will send out a more detailed report on how the Governor’s budget proposal impacts UT’s budget priorities shortly.