Statement from Senator Bill Ketron on Supplemental Appropriations Amendment / Teacher Benefits

(NASHVILLE, TN), March 31, 2015 — “I am very pleased that the Governor’s supplemental amendment to the budget includes adding another month of health insurance benefits for teachers. This shows the continuing commitment the Governor and the legislature has towards helping provide additional benefits for our teachers as we work to cover all of the health benefits for them in the future.”

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See Governor Haslam’s release below:

HASLAM INTRODUCES FY 2015-2016 BUDGET AMENDMENT
Legislation includes significant education investments and funding for new state museum

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today unveiled additions to the FY 2015-2016 budget that will be considered by the General Assembly in the coming weeks.

The supplemental appropriations amendment to SB1399/HB1374 reflects $30 million more in recurring funding, which tracks closely to the governor’s original budget proposal presented to the General Assembly on February 9.

The proposed budget amendment designates those additional recurring dollars to K-12 education, specifically to increase state funding of health insurance coverage for teachers.

“This budget proposal continues our administration’s ongoing commitment to quality education in Tennessee,” Haslam said. “All of our additional recurring money is going to fund K-12 education in addition to the $144 million from our original budget proposal. We are also making significant investments in higher education.”

Due to Franchise and Excise tax collections that exceeded estimates last month as a result of an unusual one-time event, along with other revenue collections and program savings, there are nearly $300 million more than anticipated in non-recurring funds. The budget amendment proposal includes the following non-recurring investments:

• $120 million to fund the state’s commitment to a new $160 million Tennessee State Museum, $40 million of which will be raised through private funds;
• $50 million for economic development projects bringing more high-quality jobs to Tennessee;
• $40 million to complete renovations of the Cordell Hull building;
• $36.5 million for the Rainy Day Fund in addition to the $36.5 million proposed in the original budget bringing the total reserve to 4.5 percent of state revenues;
• $12 million for maintenance and improvements to higher education facilities across the state;
• $5 million to fund new equipment in our Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology to meet job training demands across the state;
• $1.9 million for the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to fund adolescent residential alcohol and drug treatment grants.

The proposal also restores full funding to the TennCare Bureau for level two case management services. Nearly half of the funding, $5.2 million, is included as recurring dollars while the rest of the funding is designated as non-recurring. The administration will continue to review the program and look at possibilities for efficiencies in the process.

The budget amendment is scheduled to be filed Tuesday, April 7. Finance and Administration Commissioner Larry Martin begins presentations on the amendment to finance committees of the Senate and House of Representatives today.

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