Legislative Update: 5-3-19

TSEA May 3, 2019 Comments Off on Legislative Update: 5-3-19
Legislative Update: 5-3-19

This week the state budget passed and the legislative session adjourned for the year. This was a great week for state employees, as more than $100M was included in the budget for various salary adjustments.

The FY19-20 budget funds the following: Pay for Performance raises and bonuses for state employees, Higher Ed raises, a salary market study, increasing Correctional Officer starting pay, and pay raises for veteran TDOC officers & counselors. This is great news for state employees!

Funding in the budget for salary adjustments is as follows:

  • 2% pay-for-performance raise for all state employees in TEAM Act agencies (effective January 1, 2020),
  • 2% for those employees in Non-TEAM Act agencies (effective July 1, 2019),
  • Funding for salary market adjustments for state employees (effective July 1, 2019 – more details to come)
  • 2% salary pool for Higher Education employees
  • $15.6 million to increase the starting pay for the Correctional Officer Series.
  • $5.4 million for veteran TDOC officers and counselors. (According to TDOC HR a veteran officer is a current officer who has completed probation)

We are thankful to Gov. Bill Lee, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, Sen. Bo Watson, Sen. Ken Yager, Speaker of the House Glen Casada, Rep Andy Holt, the entire Tennessee Senate and Tennessee House and TDOC Commissioner Tony Parker who all worked tirelessly on a thorough state budget which makes significant investments in State Employees.

We have received many questions requesting details about the
funding for TDOC raises.

Here is an excerpt from a May 1 letter to TDOC staff from Commissioner Tony Parker detailing plans for the salary adjustment funding:

“This investment allows us to move our starting salary from $27K to $32,500, as a percent that’s 18.9 percent! In addition, we have created a new classification of Correctional Officer 2. This is a position that all new hires will attain after a one-year probationary period. Correctional Officer 2s will make just over $34K, which is 25 percent higher than today’s starting salary.

This is great for recruiting new officers, but we also must address the retention of our current staff. Governor Lee’s budget always accounted for staff salaries, but through the support of the General Assembly, additional funds were allocated to provide at least a 7.5 percent increase to address compression for veteran officers. Also, the additional funding by the State Legislature includes increases for Correctional Counselors by at least 7.5 percent. The starting salary for Correctional Counselors will increase to $34,100 for a Counselor 1 and $37,632 for a Counselor 2, which is an increase of nearly 25 percent.”

Starting pay for correctional officers increases July 1, 2019.

We are also hearing from Probation/Parole officers who are
feeling overlooked by this increase for Correctional Officers. We have had many
conversations with Commissioner Parker during this budget process about pay for
Probation and Parole officers, and the Commissioner has guaranteed us he will
ask for salary adjustments in future budgets. This year the focus was on
Correctional Officers because vacancy and turnover in the prisons are at
critical levels. With that being said, the department announced this week
they are setting aside funding for a one-time bonus for Probation/Parole
the end of the fiscal year
to let you know PPO Officers haven’t been

As we close out the legislative session, we want to remind
our members that there remains unfinished business concerning our Burden of
Proof bill and our Longevity for All bills, which are both set to be heard over
the summer. As more details become available about these hearings, including
times and dates, we will let you know.

TSEA also learned this week the cost of living adjustment
(COLA) for retirees effective July 1, 2019 will be 1.9 percent.

Any retired state employee who has been retired for at least
12 full months on July 1 of each year is eligible to receive an adjustment in
their retirement allowance.

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%. However, if the CPI increase is less than 0.5% for the
year, no COLA will be awarded. When the CPI is between 0.5% and 1% for the
year, a full 1% COLA is granted.

Thank you for all you do for Tennessee and for being a
member of TSEA!