Press release from the Democratic caucus of the Tennessee House of Representatives, April 10, 2014:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – House Republicans voted on a party-line to block a fiscally responsible budget amendment by House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh which would have kept Tennessee’s promise to teachers and state employees. The amendment would have funded a 1% bonus for teachers, 1% increase in pay for state employees, and a restoration of $29 million to fund the Complete College Act.
“It appears that my Republican colleagues value loyalty to their party more than loyalty to their constituents,” said Leader Fitzhugh. “Republicans sent a message that keeping their promise to teachers isn’t a priority. They’d rather hoard money in reserve funds than pay teachers for the hard work they do each day.”
The increases in pay would have been funded through a one-time use of $50 million in reserve funds from the state’s Fast Track grant program, along with a $31.8 million use of the state’s rainy day fund, now up to $491 million.
“It was so disappointing that Republicans couldn’t stand up for teachers when it mattered the most,” said State Rep. Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville). “We had an opportunity to work together as Democrats and Republicans to do the right thing, but unfortunately Republican members bowed to pressure from their leadership and the Governor.”
After amendments by Leader Fitzhugh were defeated on a tabling motion, three Republican amendments seeking to address teacher pay were withdrawn, preventing members of the House from having the chance to vote to fund teacher and state employee salary increases.
The budget, HB2501, passed on a final vote of 68-27 and now goes to the Senate for final approval.