Haslam makes education top priority in address

Gov. Haslam makes education top priority in State of the State address

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Addressing a packed House chamber, Gov. Haslam announced what he called the "Tennessee Promise"; the plan allows for all high school students to get two years of college education for free. Addressing a packed House chamber, Gov. Haslam announced what he called the "Tennessee Promise"; the plan allows for all high school students to get two years of college education for free.
"If we want to have jobs ready for Tennesseans we have to make sure that Tennesseans are ready for jobs," Gov. Haslam said. "If we want to have jobs ready for Tennesseans we have to make sure that Tennesseans are ready for jobs," Gov. Haslam said.
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By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

NASHVILLE (WATE) - Education was the top priority for Governor Bill Haslam during his annual State of the State address Monday evening.

Addressing a packed House chamber, Gov. Haslam announced what he called the "Tennessee Promise"; the plan allows for all high school students to get two years of college education for free.

Those credits would then be allowed for transfer to a four-year institution.

"The Tennessee Promise is an ongoing commitment to every student from every kindergartner to every high school senior. We will promise that he or she can attend two years of community college or a college of applied technology absolutely free," Haslam said.

The plan would also mean a change to the current lottery scholarship. Under the current plan, any qualifying student enrolled in a four-year-college receives $4,000 per year. The new plan would change that to $3,000 per year for the first two years, then $5,000 per year for the last two years.

State Senator Becky Duncan Massey of Knoxville voiced her approval of the initiative.

"I think it's very innovate. To know we'll be the first state in the country to offer free college education," Massey said.

Haslam proposed paying for the initiative through an endowment; that would mean using some of the funds from the Tennessee Education Lottery reserve while still leaving $110 million in the reserve.

"If we want to have jobs ready for Tennesseans we have to make sure that Tennesseans are ready for jobs," Haslam said.

Haslam outlined the achievements the state has made over the last year, including ranking the top state in the country for academic achievement and bringing employee salaries up 10 percent since 2011.

The governor also highlighted new manufacturing plants moving to the state last year.

Still, for some Democrats it was what the governor did not include in the budget that left them troubled by Monday's speech.

"Unfortunately, I didn't hear a lot about expanding Pre-K," State Senator Gloria Johnson of Knoxville said. "And I hate that we didn't talk about Medicaid expansion because I think we are doing a huge disservice to many Tennesseans."

Haslam also announced that he's including funding for a school voucher program into this year's budget proposal.

Another notable announcement was the expansion of the SAILS program, which gives high school seniors additional help in math to avoid having to take remedial courses in college.

 

 

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