Haslam says philosophically he’d love to cut taxes, but realistically, the state can’t afford another cut this year. “We’re going to be scrapping even to get to where we thought we would be” in terms of state revenue, Haslam says.
Haslam talks Medicaid expansion and the idea that he's not working on an alternative with the feds.
While in Washington on Monday, Bill Haslam tells the KN-S that he asked the Health and Human Services Department to pitch an expansion idea to him.
While excited about his pending promise for high school graduates to get free access to community colleges, Gov. Bill Haslam said he’s open to negotiation over exactly what that program should look like.
He said he’s been peppered with questions and concerns over the last four days since announcing his “Tennessee Promise” plan, like how this would effect four-year schools, how the costs would work over time and ensuring the quality of community colleges.
“Some very fair questions are already brought up about that. We welcome most of the debate and the discussion about how to make our proposal better,” he told he told a room of reporters, editors and publishers Thursday at an event hosted by The Associated Press and the Tennessee Press Association in Nashville.
As proposed, the program would first kick in for the high school class of 2015, covering their tuition and fees left over after students have applied to federal grants. Funding would come from the state’s lottery reserve fund and be invested in an endowment.
Haslam later elaborated about the program, telling reporters he’s open to changes in the details so long as the legislature sticks to the bottom line.
“We’re open to ideas that might improve it as long this idea — that we can say that every Tennessean, that you can have two years of community college free — as long as that can happen, we’re really committed to seeing this work through,” he said.
ICYMI, here are the details from last night's State of the State address, including Gov. Bill Haslam's plan to offer two free years of college to all Tennessee students.
Gov. Bill Haslam will not attend the president's speech in Nashville because he'll be attending economic development meetings in another state, according to his spokesman.
The governor told reporters Wednesday he hopes to welcome the president to Tennessee at the airport, but won’t have time to stick around for President Obama’s speech at McGavock High School in the afternoon.
“Their schedule is still changing. I have a commitment later in the afternoon, so I definitely can be there so long as they stick to their schedule for when he arrives at the airport,” said Haslam.
Haslam spokesman Dave Smith said the governor “has ECD meetings out of state,” but did not respond to a request late Wednesday seeking details about where the governor was going and with whom he was meeting.
Details about who the governor meets with have been kept hidden from reporters since the beginning of his term. Requests to review the governor’s calendar have been repeatedly rejected by his administration citing “deliberative process privilege.” Governors in other states have made their schedules available for public inspection.
With higher education emerging as one of the governor’s focal points during the legislative offseason, Gov. Bill Haslam said this year’s State of the State address will center on education.
It will also dive into the state’s finances, which for the next year look to be tight given state officials say revenues are lagging some $170 million behind expectations.
“We’re going to focus on, really, the state of the state financially, where we are in terms of addressing some of our challenges with education and we’re going to have some, I think, a path to continue the path that Tennessee’s been on in terms of improving education,” he said.
The address is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 3, at 6 p.m.
With the appointment of a task force to look at the Basic Education Program — the state's funding mechanism for schools — any BEP changes will likely be put off until the next legislative session and after elections.
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the creation of a task force to study the Basic Education Program (BEP), which is the state’s funding formula for K-12 schools.
The most recent revision to the BEP, known as BEP 2.0, was adopted in 2007. The formula takes factors such as local property and sales tax revenue into account when calculating how much money Tennessee school districts will receive from the state each year. A number of districts, both large and small, have raised questions and concerns about the formula and whether it distributes funds in a fair and equitable manner.
“The last significant revision of the BEP was seven years ago, and education in Tennessee has changed a lot since then,” Haslam said. “It is the appropriate time to take a fresh look at the formula, identify strengths and weaknesses and determine whether or not changes should be made.”
Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman will chair the task force, and members will include:
* Rep. Harry Brooks (R-Knoxville), chairman, House Education Committee
* David Connor, executive director, Tennessee County Services Association
* Sen. Delores Gresham (R-Somerville), chairman, Senate Education Committee
* Chris Henson, chief financial officer, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools
* Kevin Krushenski, research analyst, Tennessee Municipal League
* Larry Martin, commissioner, Tennessee Department of Finance & Administration
* Gary Nixon, executive director, State Board of Education
* Larry Ridings, Tennessee School Systems for Equity
* Lynnisse Roehrich-Patrick, executive director, Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations
* Justin Wilson, Comptroller of the Treasury
* Mark Cate, chief of staff, Governor’s Office (ex officio member)
“We want to make sure we are distributing funds in the right way,” Huffman said. “This task force will look at the distribution of available resources in a responsible manner.”
The task force will meet over the course of this year and will make recommendations to the governor by the end of the year.
Metro school board member Will Pinkston tells Post Politics, however, that changing the formula isn't necessarily the issue.
"They seem to be stuck on talking about equity, or how the pie is divided," Pinkston said. "When you look at the resolutions that have been passed by school boards over the last few weeks, we're really talking about adequacy, or the amount of money that's in the system overall. By nearly everyone's admission, the BEP is underfunded. The first step should be to fund what we've got. Then folks can figure out whether the pie is being split fairly."
Pinkston and other members of CLASS (Coalition of Large School Systems) met in the fall to discuss BEP, charters and what they perceive as long-term problems with the formula.