The Tennessee General Assembly has passed the $56.2B state budget for 2024, and all legislative activity on bills we are working to advance has concluded. A few bills await signatures, but legislative activity has ceased on our bills for the year.
As the legislature ends its business for the year, we would like to give you an update on the progress made this year in support of state and higher education employees. We are pleased to report that the budget contains several positive developments that will benefit our members.
State employees will receive an increase in base pay with funding equivalent to a 5% salary increase (5/23 UPDATE for clarification: This means P4P raises will be funded from a pool of money equivalent to a 5% increase. The actual percentages for Pay for Performance raises are determined later in the year using the allocated budget funds and your performance ratings). Higher education employees will also receive funding for a 5% salary pool. Moreover, there will be recurring funding to continue market salary adjustments for state employees.
The budget also includes non-recurring funding to increase the the 401(k) dollar for dollar match up to $100 for one year starting July 1, 2023.
Here are Rep. William Lamberth’s comments during budget discussions from earlier this week about the 401(k):
Additionally, pay for DCS caseworkers will increase, and deposits of $300,000,000 to the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System (TCRS) Trust Fund and $250,000,000 to the Other Postemployment Benefits (OPEB) Trust Fund will reduce or eliminate unfunded liabilities in both trust funds.
Market adjustments will also be made to the Secretary of State and Treasury positions, and funding was allocated to provide market adjustments for Legislative and Judicial branch employees.
We have also made progress in advancing several legislative bills that have now passed, including the following:
Pub. Ch. 84, SB0244 – Johnson | HB0062 Lamberth, which moves DCS teachers employed at youth detention centers into the regular state employee pay plan to be eligible for pay for performance raises, state employee bonuses, and longevity pay.
Pub. Ch. 151, SB0533 – Haile | HB1151 White, allows state employees in the Sick Leave Bank to use sick leave days to care for a minor child at home.
Pub. Ch. 135, SB0235 – Walley| HB0174 – Alexander, allows a person returning to service on other than a full-time basis in a position covered by the optional retirement program for higher education institutions to take or continue taking distributions from the optional retirement program during the period of reemployment under certain conditions.
A few bills are awaiting the Governor’s signature, such as the Paid Leave Bill, SB0276 – Johnson | HB0324 Lamberth, which provides state employees access to six weeks of paid parental leave for the birth or adoption of a child. It also changes how leave is rewarded, with new employees receiving all their annual leave for the year on their hire date, and current employees receiving it all on each service anniversary date. The state now has the authority to fund all or part of voluntary benefits, including dental insurance and long-term disability benefits.
Additionally, SB1176 – Swann | HB0573 – Cochran, allows TWRA to deposit money from lifetime licenses into their general fund, allowing TWRA to have more flexibility to provide salary market study adjustments to employees.
Lastly, The bill to change Juneteenth from a day of special observance to a legal holiday in TN passed both chambers on Thursday! It now heads to Governor Lee for his signature. Juneteenth is a holiday celebrated on June 19 commemorating the end of slavery in the US. Once the bill is signed, Juneteenth will become an official state holiday in TN. This also means it is a paid holiday for state employees. This bill was one of TSEA’s Legislative Priorities and we are pleased to see this bill pass. Congratulations to the sponsors and everyone who worked on this bill over the last two years!
For the most up to date status on all legislation TSEA has worked to advance during this legislative session, please visit the legislation section of our website here: http://tseaonline.org/2023-legislation/.
It was our pleasure serving you this year on the hill, and we thank you for being a member of TSEA.