Press Releases

State Recognizes 24 Emergency Workers for First Responder Efforts

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Safety; Sept. 10, 2012: 

NASHVILLE— Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s Chief of Staff Mark Cate and Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons were among several state officials to honor 24 individuals from across the state for their service as emergency first responders.

The First Responder Awards Ceremony, held at the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) headquarters, celebrated those who have dedicated their lives for the safety and security of all Tennesseans. The special ceremony has been held each year since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. The event is also held in conjunction with National Preparedness Month.

“It has been more than a decade since the 9/11 attacks on the United States. However, we will always remember the public servants like you, who were willing to risk their lives and rescue as many people as possible. The lessons learned on that day have changed the way you all train for emergencies or disasters, for the better,” Cate said.

The 24 individuals recognized at Monday’s ceremony were nominated by their peers and represent each of the 11 Homeland Security districts in Tennessee, as well as the TBI, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), Tennessee Citizen Corps., and the Tennessee Highway Patrol. (The names and biographies of the honorees are attached separately.)

“This ceremony is an important reminder that we should recognize all of the men and women who put themselves in harm’s way for our safety. Tennessee’s law enforcement officers and first responders have selflessly put the lives of strangers before their own. The daily sacrifices they make to keep us safe are worthy of recognition,” Gibbons said.

The ceremony is one of the Office of Homeland Security’s National Preparedness Month activities. National Preparedness Month is a nationwide effort encouraging Americans to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies. Critical to the preparedness process are the men and women who serve our state and citizens as first responders.

State of Tennessee 2012 First Responder Award Receivers.

Press Releases

Hagerty Takes Leave to Campaign for Romney

Press release from the Department of Economic & Community Development; Sept. 10, 2012: 

NASHVILLE – Gov. Bill Haslam today announced that Commissioner of Economic and Community Development Bill Hagerty will take a temporary leave of absence to volunteer as a member of the Romney/Ryan presidential readiness team in Washington, D.C.

Hagerty’s unpaid leave will run from Monday, September 17 through Tuesday, November 6. Despite the scheduled time away, he will be in Nashville October 18 and 19 to oversee the Governor’s Conference on Economic and Community Development.

The presidential readiness team is led by former Gov. Mike Leavitt of Utah. Hagerty served in a similar role for the 2008 presidential campaign of U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

“Bill’s background makes him a logical choice to serve in this role,” Haslam said. “He will do a great job.”

Deputy to the Governor Claude Ramsey will assume oversight of the department during Hagerty’s leave of absence.

“Creating and growing Tennessee jobs is a top priority for our administration, and I appreciate Claude for his willingness to serve in this capacity in the upcoming weeks,” Haslam continued. “His experience will be an asset to the department as we continue to focus on new jobs in Tennessee.”

Hagerty will return to the department on Wednesday, November 7.

Press Releases

‘SCORE Prize Award’ Finalists Announced

Press release from the Tennessee State Collaborative on Reforming Eduction(SCORE); August 30, 2012: 

(Nashville) – The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) today announced the 12 finalists for the second annual SCORE Prize Award. The Prize is awarded to the elementary, middle, and high school, along with one school district in Tennessee that have most dramatically improved student achievement.

The winners of the SCORE Prize will be announced at an event at the historic Ryman Auditorium on Monday, October 8 at 6:00 pm, which will be hosted by SCORE Chairman and former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. Tennessee Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman will make remarks during the event.

The 2012 SCORE Prize finalists are:

Boones Creek Elementary, Washington County Schools
John Sevier Elementary, Maryville City Schools
Pigeon Forge Primary, Sevier County Schools

Power Center Academy, Memphis City Schools
Rose Park Math/Science Magnet School, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools
Southside Elementary, Henderson County Schools

Covington High School, Tipton County Schools
Fayette Ware Comprehensive High School, Fayette County Schools
Ravenwood High School, Williamson County Schools

Hamblen County Schools
Maryville City Schools
Tipton County Schools

“The SCORE Prize is awarded to recognize tremendous success in preparing students for the future,” said SCORE President and CEO Jamie Woodson. “Each of the 2012 SCORE Prize finalists has made significant strides in raising student achievement levels. All 12 finalists, as well as the communities that support them, should be proud of the progress their children are making. Their work demonstrates that meaningful improvement in public education is possible.”

The SCORE Prize will award $10,000 to the elementary, middle, and high school and $25,000 to one district in Tennessee that have most dramatically improved student achievement. Winners and finalists are also highlighted by SCORE throughout the year. Winners are chosen in a two-step process. The first stage identified finalists through a weighted criteria selection process that took into account TVAAS growth and TCAP improvement. This process also factored in attendance rates and socioeconomic status. College-readiness data, such as ACT and college-going rates, were considered for high schools and districts. The second stage will consist of site visits to the finalists to document the policies and practices that have enabled them to make significant gains in student achievement.

The SCORE Prize event is being held in conjunction with the Tennessee Department of Education’s annual Education LEADership Conference (LEAD). To reserve free tickets for the SCORE Prize event or learn about the 2011 finalists and winners visit

Press Releases

Ramsey: GOP ‘United’ Behind Romney

Statement from Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey; August 31, 2012: 

The fall election season has begun. The Republican National Convention has concluded and the party has nominated two excellent men to lead it through November and beyond: Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan.

I was proud to represent both my party and my state as a Tennessee delegation co-chair in Tampa and witness the introduction of this great ticket to the American people. Our Tennessee delegation had a great time sharing stories and ideas with Republicans from across the country.

And then there were the speeches. So many different voices all coming together for one common purpose. Whether it was the foreign policy genius of Condoleezza Rice, the inspiring social conservatism of Governor Mike Huckabee or messages from the tea party delivered by Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, all the speakers were united in reaching one goal: electing Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and ending America’s Obama ordeal.

As many of you may know I supported a different candidate in the primary. But after this past week and after studying the record of Mitt Romney, I truly believe we are united behind the best candidate to defeat Barack Obama.

The Obama campaign will try and paint Mitt Romney’s experience in business as a negative but I believe the American people will see through these transparent attacks. Mitt Romney has a story to tell and it is one of economic recovery.

For 15 years, Mitt Romney worked at a company that took failing businesses and turned them around. He described his experience in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.

“I know what it takes to turn around difficult situations. And I will put that experience to work, to get our economy back on track, create jobs, strengthen the middle class and lay the groundwork for America’s increased competitiveness in the world,” Romney explained.

Mitt Romney, for lack of a better term, is a turnaround artist. That skill is the number one requirement to lead America out of the Obama recession.

I’m excited at the prospect of a president who has worked in the private sector identifying new ways to maximize resources and solve problems. I’m energized to support a presidential candidate who speaks from experience and with optimism about the possibilities of our free enterprise system in contrast to a President who belittles the efforts of small businessmen.

Mitt Romney’s competency as an executive leader was proven once again in his choice of a runningmate. Many urged Governor Romney to make a safe choice and choose a bland figure who would make no waves. He instead made a bold choice.

Paul Ryan is young, visionary leader of the intellectual Right and one who has been unafraid to stake out clear and definable positions.

The choice of an advanced thinker such as Ryan shows that Romney is concerned not just with the politics of getting elected but with the policy expertise needed to govern. In his speech in Tampa, Rep. Ryan revealed himself as the perfect compliment to Mitt Romney and showed that he is ready to serve on day one.

The choice the American people have been given is a stark one — and that is just how I like it.

On one side, we have a man who spent a career building success out of failure, a man who has turned around companies and saved jobs. On the other side, we have a man who has taken a recession and turned it into a near depression all the while telling individuals who have managed success in tough times that “they didn’t build that.”

These two visions of America could not be more diametrically opposed.

In Tennessee, Republicans have proven that conservative governance works. We have proven that you can shrink a budget’s bottom line, cut taxes and still provide high quality services. We have shown that a state that pays its bills on time can thrive — even in the Obama recession.

I see the same principles of conservative governance in the Romney/Ryan ticket. I look forward to seeing a change in the White House and cannot wait to see Mitt Romney make America’s economic comeback his turnaround masterpiece.

Press Releases

TDEC Issues Conservation Awards

Press release from the Department of Environment & Conservation; August 24, 2012:  

NASHVILLE – Deputy Governor Claude Ramsey and Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau presented the 2012 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards at the Ellington Agriculture Center campus in Nashville today, recognizing 11 honorees whose efforts have made a positive impact on Tennessee’s natural resources.

“Today’s award ceremony honored groups and individuals across the state for their commitment to healthier and more sustainable communities,” Ramsey said. “I want to commend all of this year’s honorees for their hard work and for their dedication to Tennessee’s natural resources.”

In its 26th year, the Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards program recognizes exemplary voluntary actions that improve or protect our environment and natural resources with projects or initiatives that are not required by law or regulation. A panel of 36 professionals representing agricultural, conservation, forestry, environmental and academic professionals judged more than 100 nominations and selected this year’s award recipients based on criteria including on-the-ground achievement, innovation and public education.

“The ongoing protection of our land, water and air are essential components to our quality of life,” added Martineau. “This year’s award winners have put forth an extraordinary amount of effort, and we are pleased to be in position to honor their commitment to environmental stewardship and for leaving a positive legacy for all Tennesseans.”

Ten awards were presented to individuals, community organizations and government agencies in a number of environmental categories. The winner of one additional honor, the Robert Sparks Walker Lifetime Achievement Award, also was announced at the August 24 ceremony.

The 2012 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award winners are:

The Robert Sparks Walker Lifetime Achievement Award

The Robert Sparks Walker Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Carter County native Gary W. Barrigar, an award-winning science teacher and long-time advocate of Tennessee’s environmental heritage.

“Each year, we recognize an individual who has devoted a lifetime of exemplary service to environmental protection or conservation stewardship in Tennessee,” said Martineau. “Gary Barrigar has imparted the value and importance of the natural world to thousands of students, parents, administrators and various organizations throughout his 40-year career by using nature as a classroom and integrating environmental education into daily curriculum.”

In 2000, Barrigar was selected to chair the Tennessee State Board of Education Science Standards Committee that developed standards for high school courses in Ecology and Environmental Science that remain in use to this day. Barrigar also served as the president of the Boone Watershed Partnership from 2005-2012, growing the multi-faceted partnership from a loosely organized group to a highly effective 501(c)(3) organization that works to identify and address water resource issues in the Boone watershed, located in East Tennessee and parts of Virginia.

Barrigar also has served in a number of leadership roles with various environmental and conservation groups, including the Southern Appalachian Highland Conservancy, Friends of Roan Mountain, the Buffalo Creek Watershed Alliance and the Overmountain Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

Alongside his wife, Nancy, Barrigar has led the “Peacemaking Committee” at First Presbyterian Church in Elizabethton, Tenn., for more than 20 years – a group that involves church members in a variety of projects and activities focused on improving our natural environment.

Category: Excellence in Building Green

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis / Sustainable Building Program (Shelby County) – During 2011, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis was the top builder of single-family, EcoBUILD-certified homes in Shelby County. All Memphis Habitat for Humanity homes are built to this standard, and they are 33 percent more energy efficient, use 30 percent less lumber and generate 75 percent less construction waste than traditional homes. Homes also incorporate many innovative and sustainable features, including Energy Star windows, appliances, lighting and ceiling fans; low-flow toilets, faucets and shower heads; recycled drywall and carpet; brick and cement-fiber board siding; OSB sheathing and house wrap; radiant roof decking; and low-VOC paints and coatings. The Habitat homes are sold at no profit, with zero-interest mortgages to qualified homebuyers who earn at or below 80 percent of the area median income. Projects through the Memphis-area Habitat for Humanity created an infusion of nearly $3 million into the local economy during 2011, providing steady employment to nearly 60 workers in the hard-hit construction industry, while making affordable home ownership possible for 44 low-income families.

Category: Excellence in Energy and Renewable Resources

The Tennessee Renewable Energy & Economic Development Council (Knox County) – The Tennessee Renewable Energy and Economic Development Council (TREEDC) demonstrated exceptional leadership in 2011 by partnering with 75 cities and counties to facilitate the advancement of renewable energy and energy efficiency in Tennessee.

TREEDC’s biggest mark in 2011 was through its assistance to several small communities with solar and biodiesel development. TREEDC also started a joint program with TVA to help bring more renewable energy to the state via its partnership with the Green Power Switch Program. As part of their efforts, TREEDC hosted six free clean energy forums across the state, reaching out to more than 500 citizens to learn more about the environmental and economic benefits of renewable energy. TREEDC’s outreach is designed to plan and facilitate development of Tennessee’s abundant natural renewable resources to spur sustainable economic development and to provide long term energy security to the citizens of Tennessee, extended to private businesses, local governments, farmers, energy and service providers, resource agencies and universities.

Category: Excellence in Environmental Education and Outreach

Duck River Watershed Education and Action Project (Marshall County) – The Duck River Watershed Education and Action Project is an experiential curriculum designed to educate and engage students and citizens about watershed issues, the value of parks and recreation, and how today’s youth can positively impact communities. A collaborative effort between the Friends of Henry Horton State Park and the Tennessee Environmental Council, the project involved hands-on biodiversity training, as well as opportunities to better understand our role as active citizens to better the environment, economy and quality of life.

Over 130 Marshall County fifth grade students participated in the project in 2011. Tasks included stream-bank observation and collection of samples from the Duck River. The students then analyzed the data, formed conclusions, and proposed and implemented actions to enhance streamside habitat such as planting trees to increase the riparian buffer. The project’s innovative design bridges the gap between classroom studies and applicable field work and engages students and leaders through observation, identifying opportunities for enhancement and proposing solutions.

Category: Excellence in Environmental Education and Outreach / Schools

Tigers Initiative for Gardening in Urban Settings / TIGUrS Urban Garden (Shelby County) – The University of Memphis’ Tigers Initiative for Gardening in Urban Settings (also known as TIGUrS) serves as a model to students, staff, faculty and the community at large for demonstrating responsible, affordable environmental stewardship through proven urban agriculture methods. The project serves not only as a premier setting for learning sustainable agriculture – it also provides all participants with high-quality, organically produced foods at no cost. The TIGUrS program also demonstrates a model of sustainable urban agriculture that can be easily understood and transferred to almost anywhere in the community, benefiting both the environment and economy. The program imparts direct, hands-on experience with soil reclamation and improvement, organic pests and disease management, and environmentally-conscious structure design and usage. The TIGUrS program is the first and only student-grant funded program of its kind offered at no cost and without restriction by a state university in Tennessee.

Category: Excellence in Land Use

Cherry Farms Conservation Project (Lauderdale County) – In 2011, Cherry Farms installed a comprehensive array of environmental best management practices that addressed water quality, soil erosion, and plant and animal productivity and health. Many of these efforts were designed to reduce the impacts of cattle access, manure runoff and erosion to Cold Creek, which is listed by the state as an impaired stream. The project included 2,155 feet of exclusion fencing, 3,347 feet of cross fencing, 11,700 square feet of heavy use area, one water well, 2,700 feet of pipeline, eight cattle-watering facilities, one water and sediment control basin, 10 grade control structures, and 300 acres of nutrient management. These measures resulted in a 96 percent decrease in E.coli counts from water samples taken in Cold Creek downstream from Cherry Farms, as well as increased cattle productivity and health due to more efficient and higher quality grazing and watering systems.

Category: Excellence in Materials Management

Cumberland County’s Friendly Glass (Cumberland County) – Glass bottles present unique management challenges due to their weight and volume. In 2011, the Cumberland County Solid Waste Department purchased the Andela Glass Pulverizer System – a machine that crushes glass into a fine sand-like substance. This innovative system facilitates landfill diversion of glass bottles and also creates a marketable product with many beneficial uses. The fine glass product is mixed with sand and spread on county roads during inclement weather, reducing salt usage and runoff into area streams by up to 1,000 tons per year.

Last year, the system contributed to a 20 percent recycling increase in Cumberland County, including approximately 15 tons of glass. More than 1,000 tons of glass is projected to be recycled and processed by the system in 2012. The revenue generated by the sale of the product to the county road department, as well as savings in landfill disposal fees, will provide a return on investment in less than two years.

Category: Excellence in Natural Heritage

Athens Community Initiatives to Restore and Protect Our Natural Heritage (McMinn County) – The city of Athens Wetland / Rain Garden Demonstration project began as a restoration of 5.3 acres of wetlands on the Oostanuala Creek, the location of the city’s E. G. Fisher Public Library. This effort served as a springboard for several other projects and locations throughout the city, including pervious amphitheaters and picnic areas, bio-retention areas, community vegetable gardens and orchards, rain gardens, sink hole buffers, the restoration of a limestone glade and native plantings.

The demonstrations also provide unique educational opportunities for both current residents and future generations. Tours of the various project features are given to educate the public about how wetlands improve water quality, the importance of endangered cedar glades, our relationship to native trees and plants, and other environmental topics. This was all accomplished by a community effort involving only 15,000 people, with the help of numerous grants, donations and partnerships, and more than 600 volunteers.

Category: Excellence in Sustainable Performances

Food City Energy Conservation Objective (Statewide) – Food City, headquartered in Abingdon, Virginia, exemplifies superior leadership for a more sustainable future. Operating 62 stores in Tennessee, Food City is incorporating environmental initiatives on multiple fronts including recycling, energy savings, and chemical and waste reduction. Food City is very active in the community and has a history for demonstrating their commitment to local charitable organizations, promoting social sustainability via financial support of schools, utilizing the NuVal healthy food rating system, and providing associate health screenings at each location. Food City also contributes to the state’s economic vitality and supports local farmers by purchasing and marketing local products. Food City won the Progressive Grocer / Green Grocer Award for 2011 for its ECO-friendly design at the company’s Morristown, Tenn. location.

Pursuit of Excellence Recognition / Going Gold Twice

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee (Hamilton County) – BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee was honored with the Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award in 2010 for its 950,000 square-foot Cameron Hill campus, the state’s largest LEED Gold-certified project to date. In 2011, BlueCross completed renovation of the 180,000 square foot Gateway Building, an existing four-story structure originally built in 1965, again earning LEED Gold.

Highlights include a 198.24 kilowatt solar array; state-of-the-art water control, utilizing natural storm water filters to remove pollutants; and reuse of 96 percent of the building’s existing walls, floors and roof. Additionally, BlueCross BlueShield’s enterprise-wide paperless drive, daily recycling efforts, telecommuting program, hybrid shuttle service and use of green cleaning and green pest control services have made a positive impact on the health of the environment and, in turn, the quality of life for Tennesseans.

Pursuit of Excellence Recognition / Environmental Partnership Initiative

The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay State Park (Hamilton County) – The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay State Park is an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus signature golf course located just minutes from downtown Chattanooga. Its Environmental Partnership Initiative combines multiple environmental programs and projects aimed at improving and preserving wildlife habitat, reducing the impact on natural resources, protecting waterways on and around the golf course, and educating the public on environmental conservation and stewardship issues. A notable highlight is the Harrison Bay Eagle Cam Project, which captures the activities of two bald eagles nesting at the golf course. To date this project has provided over 57,000 visitors an opportunity to view nature up close. Additionally, the Bear Trace at Harrison Bay has been certified as both an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary and as a Groundwater Guardian Green Site. Receiving numerous regional, state and national recognitions for its exemplary stewardship, the Bear Trace at Harrison Bay continues to balance the needs of golfers with the needs of the wildlife that call Harrison Bay home in an environmentally sustainable manner.

For more information about the Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards program, please visit


Press Releases

State Looks to Lease Fields for 2012 Dove Season

Press release from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; August 13, 2012: 

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is seeking fields to lease for the upcoming 2012 dove season. The first phase of dove season opens at noon on Saturday, Sept. 1.

Mourning doves are a popular game bird and one of the most widely distributed and abundant birds in North America. More mourning doves are harvested than all other migratory bird species combined in 39 of the continental states. In Tennessee, about 40,000 hunters harvested approximately 300,000 mourning doves last year.

Landowners can earn up to $3,000 for providing a dove field for public hunting. These fields must be available for a minimum of three priority hunt dates in September.

TWRA began its leased dove field program in the late 1980s and the program has been very successful in providing quality hunting opportunities for hunters. In addition to leased fields, many public dove fields are provided on wildlife management areas in each TWRA region. The TWRA website has specific information about WMAs and leased dove fields in each region.

The standard fall leased field is a harvested grain or millet/hay field to which TWRA leases the hunting rights for three priority dates. Rates paid to landowners for traditional fall leased fields will be $75 per acre for a maximum field size of 40 acres for a total contract of $3,000 per field. These fields will be signed up by Sept. 1.

Anyone interested in leasing a dove field to TWRA should contact their TWRA regional office. The TWRA has four regional offices across the state that interested landowners can contact: Region I (West Tennessee) 731-423-5725 or toll free 1-800-372-3928; Region II (Middle Tennessee) 615-781-6622 or toll free 1-800-624-7406; Region III (Upper Cumberland) 931-484-9571 or toll free 1-800-262-6704; Region IV (East Tennessee) 423-587-7037 or 1-800-332-0900. For additional information, contact Tim White, TWRA Migratory Game Bird Program Coordinator at (615) 781-6610.

Press Releases

State Announces Free, Reduced-price Meal Guidelines

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Education; June 30, 2012:

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Department of Education today announced the 2012-13 U.S. Department of Agriculture policy for free and reduced-price meals for children in Tennessee’s schools. The USDA’s school meals programs help ensure all students have access to nutritious meals.

“It is important to give our children healthy and nutritious meals to improve their chances of successful and improve their learning opportunities,” Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman said. “Research indicates eating habits affect learning. We want to ensure all our children are well nourished and ready to learn.”

Basic facts about free and reduced price meals:

Do I need to fill out an application for each of my children? No, you only need one application for all students in your household.

Who can get free meals? All children in households receiving benefits from SNAP or Families First can get free meals regardless of your income. Also, your children can get free meals if your household’s gross income is within the free limits on the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines.

Can foster children get free meals? Yes, foster children that are under the legal responsibility of a foster care agency or court, are eligible for free meals. Any foster child in the household is eligible for free meals regardless of income.

Can homeless, runaway and migrant children get free meals? Yes, children who meet the definition of homeless, runaway, or migrant qualify for free meals. Check with your school, the homeless liaison or migrant coordinator for more information and to see if your children qualify.

Who can get reduced meals? Your children can get low cost meals if your household is within the reduced price limits on the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines.

Should I fill out an application if I get a letter this school year saying my children are approved for free or reduced-price meals? Read the letter carefully and follow the instructions, or call your local School Nutrition Program Director.

My child’s application was approved last year. Do I need to fill out another one? Yes. Your child’s application is only good for that school year and for the first few days of this school year. You must send in a new application unless the school told you that your child is eligible for the new school year.

If I get WIC, can my children get free meals? Your children may be eligible for free or reduced price meals, but you will need to fill out an application.

Will the information you give be checked? Yes, and you may also be asked to send written proof.

If I do not qualify now, may I apply later? Yes, you may apply at any time during the school year. Children with a parent or guardian who becomes unemployed may become eligible for free and reduced price meals if the household income drops below the income limit.

What if I disagree with the school’s decision about my application? You should talk to school officials, or you may also ask for a hearing by calling or writing the school officials.

May I apply if someone in my household is not a U. S. citizen? Yes. Neither you nor your children have to be U. S. citizens to qualify for free or reduced price meals.

Who should I include as members of my household? You must include all people living in your household, related or not (such as grandparents, other relatives, or friends) who share income and expenses. You must include yourself and all children who live with you. If you live with other people who are economically independent, do not include them.

What if my income is not always the same? You must list the amount that you normally receive. If you normally get overtime, include it. But if you do not normally get it, do not include it. If you have lost a job or had your hours or wages reduced, use your current income.

If you are in the military, do you include your housing allowance as income? If you get an off-base housing allowance, you must include it as income. If your housing is part of the Military Housing Privatization Initiative, do not include your housing allowance as income.

If my spouse is deployed to a combat zone, is the combat pay counted as income? No, if the combat pay is received in addition to the basic pay because of deployment and it was not received before the deployment, combat pay is not counted as income.

If I need more help, whom should I contact? For more information on the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program, contact Sarah White, TDOE, at or at 615-532-4714. For more information on applying for SNAP, or other assistance benefits, visit or call the toll free hotline at 866-311-4287.

For more information contact Kelli Gauthier at 615-532-7817 or

Education Featured Tax and Budget

Higher Spending Requested for Higher Ed

Tennessee higher education officials, sensing the wind in the back of the state’s education reform efforts, boldly made their request to Gov. Bill Haslam Tuesday for a budget increase of $28.7 million.

Haslam has asked all state agencies to submit a contingency plan for 5 percent reductions, and the state’s higher education schools complied with an outline that would trim $55.1 million from their books.

But leaders of the state’s public colleges and universities seized upon the initiatives from K-12 education and higher education like the Complete College Act as a means of persuasion with the governor. The $28.7 million request represents a 2.7 percent increase in funds.

“This is an interesting time,” Richard G. Rhoda, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, told Haslam during a budget hearing. “We have a new way of looking at it.

“The state has higher education serving the needs of the state. We have a new master plan. We have a new funding formula that reinforces that master plan based on outcomes. We’re seeing positive movement.”

Rhoda said there are indicators of more students completing degrees, better retention rates and improvements in the amount of remedial and developmental courses that have been falling to higher education. But even as a higher ed official, Rhoda pointed to the significance of what the state is doing in K-12 as the foundation for improvements in higher education.

“The reforms in higher education are great, but the bigger context is how it fits the other reforms in K-12,” Rhoda said. “For us to succeed really is predicated on those improvements in K-12. Just suffice it to say we very much support those.”

Rhoda sat between Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan and University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro at the hearing at the Capitol in Nashville. All three seemed keenly aware of the daunting financial obstacles facing students and families in affording college. THEC approved its budget request last week, but it came along with proposed increases in tuition that would range from 3-10 percent depending on the schools in the state’s higher education system.

Morgan made a pitch similar to Rhoda’s.

“The combination of Race to the Top, the Complete College Act, the talk is right,” Morgan said.

“There’s a tremendous amount of energy out there and discussion going on and realization that it really is about the state’s future.”

The education officials knew they were preaching to the choir in Haslam, who has made the ties between education and job growth a major theme in his first year in office. But it didn’t make the governor’s job any easier in funding education requests. Haslam cut the budget for higher education in his first year in office by 2 percent, or $20 million.

But the three educators brought even more ammunition to the table. DiPietro pointed to efforts to operate more efficiently in universities. Morgan said the costs at schools actually haven’t gone up at the pace of what students are experiencing in paying tuition.

Rhoda broke down funding trends for Haslam. He told the governor that 10 years ago a university’s funding came roughly 60 percent from the state and 40 percent from the students, while community colleges received about 70 percent from the state at that time.

Now, the figures have been reversed, Rhoda said. The state provides about 36 percent while student tuition and fees cover 53 percent. Rhoda, like Morgan, said cost itself is not increasing for the schools. The change, he said, is in the mix of revenue, where students are having to pay more for their share.

Haslam told reporters after the hearing that he believes there will have to be some tuition increase but that he hopes to limit it. He said he didn’t anticipate being able to grant the colleges a $28.7 million increase but that he didn’t believe he would have to hold them to a 5 percent decrease either. Haslam also pointed to capital needs at colleges and universities.

Haslam said the recent improvements in revenue figures could help the state address a $360 million budget gap.

“I’m really, really hopeful we don’t have to go 5 percent,” Haslam said. “Some of those cuts are tough.

“I feel a little better now than I did three weeks ago, but I can’t sit here today and tell you it will be 3 percent or 1 percent, instead of 5. I just don’t know that yet.”

The state reported that revenue collections for October were $791 million, 8 percent above October in 2010.