The Governor has announced a $475 million plan for education in Tennessee. In a year when we have over $1 billion dollars in over collected taxes, the governor wants to raise taxes through a tobacco tax in order to fund his improvements to education.
His education plan includes reworking the BEP funding formula by shifting funds to urban areas. In addition, he proposes that the state fully fund the cost of at-risk students, fund student growth in the year it occurs, fully fund the cost of educating students who can't speak English, and have the state pay 75% of the total for teacher’s salaries.
He further stated his intention to use the broad powers currently in the law to make failing schools perform. Republican's noted that none of those things have ever been employed by the state. He also stated that we need to demand more from our colleges that educate teachers to ensure teachers specialize in the subject matter they intend to teach.
A few budget facts:
- State budget in fiscal year 2002: $17.5 billion.
- Governor’s proposed state budget fiscal year 2007: $27.48 billion.
- In the past five years expenditures have increased 57%.
- 2007 tax revenue growth; $939 million dollars ($439 million in recurring funds and $500 million in non-recurring funds).
- $50,000/minute; the amount of money the state of Tennessee currently spends each day.
- The State Funding Board meets next week; they are expected to announce up to an additional $300 million dollars over collected taxes.