Following Gov. Bill Lee’s disappointing State of the State address during which he revealed a status quo budget when it comes to public schools, state Sen. Jeff Yarbro of Nashville called on the Lee Administration to use the opportunity of a huge budget surplus to update the BEP.
Yarbro is right, of course. The BEP woefully underfunds Tennessee schools. Back in 2014, the BEP Review Committee highlighted a long list of needs.
State Senator Jeff Yarbro offers thoughts on Gov. Lee’s education budget.
“The governor‘s budget is not enough to even do a 4 percent increase for teacher pay. It’s tinkering around the edges in a year that we have one of the biggest budget surpluses in our history and we have the capacity to actually improve the structural education deficit problem. We think the reasonable step is getting to $1.5 billion (for public schools). That’s not that audacious of a goal. That gets us to about average in the Southeast. Right now our per pupil student funding is lower than every state in the Southeast except Mississippi.”
“What’s broken about the BEP is not the division. The pie is not big enough in the first place. The BEP assumes that we need fewer teachers then are actually in our schools. If you walk down the hallway at any school in Tennessee and see six teachers, the BEP says you only need five teachers to teach those kids and you only need the money to pay for four of their salaries.”
Yarbro and other legislative Democrats are proposing a $1.5 billion increase in education funding.
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