State of the State: Overview

Governor and Mrs. Haslam exit the House floor together after the State of the State Address. Credit Stephen Jerkins.

Governor and Mrs. Haslam exit the House floor together after the State of the State Address. Credit Stephen Jerkins.

Tennessee’s governor laid out a budget proposal last night that’s primarily filled with moderate investments here and there. Most of the state’s added revenue will be taken up by rising costs in health care and education. But Governor Bill Haslam did propose a small raise for state workers and an injection of cash for the Rainy Day fund.

The governor’s budget includes a 1-and-a-half percent, across the board raise for state employees. He also said its time to rejigger the salary scale so jobs that have become more complicated get more compensation.

That includes employees in the Department of Children’s Services. The agency has been under fire for repeated instances where children died even after the state looked into their well-being.

Haslam’s budget calls for getting rid of 30 DCS administrators, while at the same time adding case workers and raising the requirements for those positions.


“We should be paying them more, and we should also do a better job of setting them up for success by making sure they have the skills and experience it takes to do these emotional and difficult jobs.”

The largest number specified in Haslam’s State of the State address was 100 million dollars. That’s how much he wants to put back into Tennessee’s emergency fund, enough to bring it back to pre-recession levels.

In other areas, the governor wants to allocate about 4 million dollars for a veteran’s home in Montgomery County, a million and a half to expand the state’s drug courts, and 8 million for tourism marketing. His budget also includes money for setting up new health care partnerships in Memphis and reimbursing local jails that house state prisoners.

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