Governor Bill Haslam has presented to lawmakers the spending plan that includes a staffing shakeup at the troubled Department of Children's Services, a heavy investment into construction projects around the state and a large deposit into the state's cash savings fund.
The Governor also formally introduced his proposal to create a limited school voucher program in Tennessee to allow parents to use public money to send their children to private schools. According to legislation filed in the Senate on Monday, the program would be limited to 5,000 students in the school year that begins in August, and grow to 20,000 students by 2016.
Haslam acknowledged the proposal will be "hotly debated" and Democrats issued a statement before the speech to criticize the plan.
Gov. Bill Haslam said he wants to set Tennessee on a path toward boosting college graduation rates from 32 percent to 55 percent by 2025.
Haslam has appointed Randy Boyd, chairman of wireless pet fence maker Radio Systems Corp., to help further that goal as his top higher education adviser.
Haslam said Boyd will join a working group tasked with finding ways to tackle what the governor called the "iron triangle" of affordability, access and quality issues for public colleges and universities in Tennessee.
The panel is made up the governor and the heads of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and Tennessee Board of Regents and the University of Tennessee systems.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner is calling for a special meeting to investigate the Department of Children's Services' refusal to release records related to the abuse and death of children under its care.
Turner sent the request for the joint government operations committee to Gov. Bill Haslam, Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey and House Speaker Beth Harwell, all Republicans.
The Tennessean newspaper and a group of Tennessee news organizations, including The Associated Press, have asked a judge to open records from the department.
The mass-killings last week in Newtown, Connecticut have begun a national dialogue about America’s gun laws. In Tennessee, Governor Bill Haslam says the killings will likely have an impact on proposed gun legislation set to be taken up next year in the Volunteer State.
Gov. Haslam says he believes schools and universities in Tennessee should be allowed to legally ban their workers from bringing guns to work. The Tennessean reports it’s a position that puts Haslam at odds with some fellow Republicans in the Tennessee legislature. Some lawmakers in the state are proposing legislation that would force employers to allow workers to have guns in workplace parking lots, as long as owners keep those firearms in their vehicles.
A poll taken for Vanderbilt University before Friday’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown showed 53% of Tennesseans surveyed supported the so-called “guns in trunks” legislation.