NASHVILLE – As part of TSEA’s annual Lobby Day event, more than 150 association members spent time Tuesday lobbying their elected leadership at legislative plaza in Nashville.
This year, for only the second time since taking office, Governor Bill Haslam was in attendance to address TSEA members during our morning session in the House chamber.
As part of his brief address to TSEA members, Gov. Haslam discussed two of his key budget proposal items that would affect state employees. First, he told employees he’s set aside $60 million for performance raises, and second he said an additional $36 million is allocated for a market study for employees currently earning under $50 thousand per year.
“We won’t always agree on a lot of things, but paying people well for jobs is how we are going to attract great people to work here,” Governor Haslam said. “There is nothing more important to the state than having great employees.”
Employees in attendance for the morning session also heard from Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey and Speaker of the House Beth Harwell. Both of Tennessee’s leaders talked about how the dedication and hard work of state employees has helped Tennessee become the great state we are today. Members were also encouraged and thanked for their participation in the governing process.
After hearing from state leaders, state employees from across Tennessee spread out throughout legislative plaza to visit their legislators and urge support for Governor Haslam’s proposed pay raise and market study. Employees told legislators we still have concerns about the pay for performance model, but are working harder than ever and appreciate the increased pay.
Employees also discussed the administration’s plans to outsource the facilities management for every state building not already contracted through Jones Lang LaSalle. This plan is a massive privatization effort that would include National Guard facilities, prisons, hospitals, higher education buildings, and any other building run by the state.
TSEA believes the administration’s outsourcing plan is a serious decision that should only be made using the best objective evidence available. In addition to the impact on state workers, this effort also has many unseen costs that must be considered, e.g. cuts to services, the effect on facilities, and the impact on local communities. TSEA simply doesn’t believe a private company can provide the same level of services, with profit as a motive, and do it at a lesser cost than state employees. On Wednesday the administration announced they have agreed to hire a third-party to review the numbers contained in their plan. We will continue to work closely with your legislators on this very important issue.
TSEA members also told legislators we appreciate legislative oversight of state government, and as an association we will continue to serve as a source of information and support for legislators.
Pictures and a more detailed recap of TSEA Lobby Day 2016 will be included in the March/April edition of the Co-Worker and on our website.