On Monday, Feb 3, 2020, Gov. Bill Lee gave his second state of the state address outlining the priorities of his proposed state budget.
For the second year in a row, Gov. Lee showed support for state employees and, during his speech, discussed his proposal to provide 12 weeks of paid leave to state employees. “I’m proud that under our proposal, Tennessee would become the first state in America to offer 12 weeks of paid family leave to eligible state employees who experience a significant life event,” Gov. Lee said. “I’m proud of our state workers and offering them this benefit will help us continue to retain the best and brightest and help those who help our state.”
TSEA attended the Governor’s address and was pleased to see considerable funding allocated to state employees. “We appreciate Gov. Bill Lee for his strong commitment to our state employees,” TSEA Executive Director Randy Stamps said.
Gov. Lee in his proposed budget included funding for several state employee initiatives. Here are a few of those items.
State employee budget highlights at-a-glance:
· Pay for Performance Salary Pool: A pool of recurring funding for employee compensation adjustments based on performance evaluation in agencies under the TEAM Act, equivalent to a 2.5% increase. Effective January 2021.
· Salary Pool for Non-TEAM Act Agencies: A pool of recurring funding for employee compensation increases to be allocated by the appointing authorities of agencies not covered in the TEAM Act, equivalent to a 2.5% increase. Effective July 1, 2020.
· Market Adjustment: $40M to provide recurring funding for salary market adjustments for state employees effective July 1, 2020.
· 2.5 percent salary pool for higher education employees
· $10 million in the Department of Correction to increase the starting salaries of probation and parole officers
(Note and reminder for retirees: Tennessee Code Annotated, 8-36-801 dictates the COLA award. Basically, the change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the previous calendar year, as determined by the U.S. Department of Labor is awarded as COLA up to a maximum of 3%. We do not yet have confirmation of the percentage for this year. As we learn this information, we will share it with you.)
Here are a few selected highlights we pulled from the Governor’s budget document summary:
A 2.5 percent salary pool for higher education employees is funded with a recurring $8.1 million for the University of Tennessee, $12.1 million for the Locally Governed Institutions and $8.2 million for the Board of Regents. A 2.5 percent salary pool for employees working in non-formula units of higher education is funded with $425,800 to the Higher Education Commission, $8.2 million for the University of Tennessee, $1.9 million for the Locally Governed Institutions and $419,500 for the Board of Regents. Total new funding for higher education salaries equals $39.3 million.
Investments in Judicial Support and Public Safety
A recurring appropriation of $10 million is recommended in the Department of Correction to increase the starting salaries of probation and parole officers. These salary increases will bring probation and parole officer salaries in line with the average starting salaries of law enforcement agencies across the southeastern states.
In the Department of Safety, 80 new positions are recommended to alleviate wait times at driver services centers and to create four additional express service stations in metropolitan areas. These positions are funded with $4.8 recurring and $2.9 non-recurring.
Investments in Employees
To continue implementing Pay for Performance in executive branch agencies, an appropriation of $19.1 million is recommended. This amount is the equivalent of a 2.5 percent across-the-board increase; however, the percent increase each employee receives will be based on an evaluation score of valued, advanced, or outstanding. Employee evaluations will be completed on Sept 30, 2020, and the resulting salary increases will be effective on Jan 1, 2021. The six-month cost of these performance-based increases will be $19.1 million in fiscal year 2020-2021 and the annualized cost will be $38.3 million. Recurring funding for salary market adjustments is recommended at $40 million.
Salary increases for state employees not covered by the Tennessee Excellence, Accountability, and Management (TEAM) Act will be funded with an appropriation of $8.9 million, which is the equivalent of a 2.5 percent across-the-board increase. The amount of increase each employee receives will be decided by the appointing authorities of those agencies and those increases will be effective July 1, 2020.
Changes to state employee benefits including retirement, group health insurance, and Other Post Employment Benefit (OPEB) liabilities are funded with a recommendation of $20 million recurring for retirement, $8.1 million recurring for group health, and $15 million recurring for OPEB.
A total of $7.7 million in state funding is required to pay salary increases mandated by state law for certain job classifications within state government. These jobs and the state dollars necessary xxvi Budget Highlights to fund the required increases include state judges ($794,900), the Attorney General ($4,500), assistant district attorneys and criminal investigators ($1.4 million), assistant public defenders and criminal investigators ($718,300), public defender offices in Shelby and Davidson counties ($145,800), assistant post-conviction defenders ($25,000), the Governor ($4,600), trooper step increases ($1.2 million) and border-state survey ($1.8 million), and wildlife officer step increases ($656,500 ) and border-state survey ($1 million).
State statutes mandate that teachers at state-run schools must be compensated based on their training and experience. To fund this requirement, $18,000 is provided to the Department of Children’s Services for the youth development schools and $117,300 in the Department of Education for state special schools.
We are still learning more details about the Governor’s proposed budget. Keep in mind, the budget must now travel through the legislative process, where there are likely to be changes. TSEA will work with your legislators on any changes and to help keep these items in the budget.
As we learn more details, and if changes are made which impact state employees, we will share them with you.
To view the Budget Documents, click the links below:
To view Gov. Lee’s 2020 State of the State address, or to view a transcript of his speech, click the links below:
Some notable quotes from Gov. Lee’s State of the State address:
“In addition to large investments in our salary pool and our outcomes-based funding formula, I’ve set aside nearly $160 million for capital improvements and $70 million for capital maintenance projects on our college campuses.”
“This year, based on those recommendations, I plan to propose legislation that will improve our probation and parole systems.”
“I am proposing 80 additional positions and funding to assist in decreasing wait times for our customers as they answer the federal mandate to obtain a REAL ID.”
“I’m proud that under our proposal Tennessee would become the first state in America to offer 12 weeks of paid family leave to eligible state employees who experience a significant life event.”
“I’m proud of our state workers and offering them this benefit will help us continue to retain the best and brightest and help those who help our state.”