This week, the Tennessee General Assembly convened for a special legislative session on education to address urgent issues facing Tennessee students and schools in the 2021-22 school year, including learning loss, funding, accountability, literacy, and teacher pay.
TSEA understands and agrees with Gov. Bill Lee regarding the need for a special session on education. However, we believe it is important to remind our elected officials that the COVID-19 pandemic has also caused immense disruption for Tennessee’s state employees.
The Tennessee State Employees Association’s Board of Directors, including our Executive Director, has sent a letter to Governor Bill Lee and to select members of the Tennessee General Assembly to remind them of the dedication of state employees during the pandemic and to ask our elected leaders to prioritize state employee pay during the 2021 legislative session.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our dedicated state employees have continued to keep Tennessee operating, providing uninterrupted services to our citizens, with many employees working on the front lines and in harm’s way. And while we recognize that the special legislative session on education is not the appropriate place to discuss raises for state employees, we urge Gov. Lee and the members of the Tennessee General Assembly to also prioritize pay for state employees during the upcoming legislative session.
State employees continue to navigate worksite closures, service delivery method realignments, daily operational challenges in high-risk areas, and countless other hurdles.
The Tennessee General Assembly in June of 2020 eliminated funding in the state budget for the FY20/21 performance raises for state employees due to dire economic projections. TSEA advocated for state employees to remain in the budget. Still, the economic outlook was not compatible with an increase at the time. Also eliminated from the budget were raises and bonuses for teachers, raises for legislators, and additional mandated raises. Cuts to the FY20/21 budget totaled over $1 billion.
“Our state employees continue to go above and beyond the call of duty, risking their health and safety daily,” TSEA Executive Director Randy Stamps said. “We call on Governor Lee and the members of the General Assembly to recognize and reward the commitment, dedication, and hard work of our state employees.”
The Governor’s proposed budget will be released in early February. When we have the proposed funding numbers, we will communicate that data to our members. Thank you for being a member of TSEA and for your dedication and commitment to serving Tennessee’s citizens.