NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Civil Rights attorney Ben Crump visited Tennessee State University (TSU) to discuss options after the federal government released a report saying the state has underfunded the university by over $2 billion.
“Students wanted to know their legal options, and they wanted to know if they could go forward with their legal options,” Crump said. “I shared with them, they have absolutely every right to demand equality.”
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“You talk about the great gains, when you’re talking about building infrastructure, when you’re talking about academic programs, you cannot ignore the underfunding,” said Rep. Harold Love Jr. (D-Nashville), a TSU grad.
But the state has yet to indicate it intends to give more money to its only public Historically Black College and University (HBCU). News 2 asked Gov. Bill Lee (R-Tennessee) if he plans to push for additional funding.
“We’ll continue to fund. Much of what this federal conversation is about are things that happened 30 years ago,” he said. “I’m focused on what we’re doing today for TSU and will continue to do that.”
The governor pointed to the fact that he did infuse extra money into last year’s budget.
“We’ve funded it every year since I’ve been here,” Lee said. “In fact, last year, as you know, we funded over $300 million, a historic amount that was unprecedented up until that time.”
That $300 million was about $250 million extra. But still, that number falls far short of the $2 billion dollars the federal government says Tennessee owes.
Even further, a bipartisan state report shows it could be north of $500 million, about double what Lee put in last year.
“You can’t let the floor be your ceiling,” Love Jr. said. “So, let’s start with the $250 million but not let that be the ceiling.”
Still, earlier this year, Comptroller Jason Mumpower said the university was ‘not a well-run organization’ and recommended potentially replacing the president.