The Tennessee Department of Revenue has released February numbers and it seems our state has nearly $200 million more than was budgeted – in February alone. This continues a trend of the state’s revenue far-exceeding budgeted estimates.
Here’s more from the Department’s press release:
Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration Commissioner Butch Eley today announced that Tennessee tax revenues exceeded budgeted estimates in February. February revenues totaled $1.13 billion, which is $112.7 million more than the state received in February 2020 and $190.9 million more than the budgeted estimate. The growth rate for February was 11.06 percent.
Despite the continued positive revenue news, Gov. Lee and legislative leaders appear committed to a status quo budget for schools.
As I noted over at The Education Report:
It’s clear the BEP is inadequate. The state’s own bipartisan commission that studies issues like school funding says the formula is $1.7 billion behind where it should be.
The Education Law Center notes that our state’s school funding has yet to recover from the 2008 recession. Had we kept up with prior funding levels and inflation, we’d have an additional $1 billion invested in schools right now.
So, Tennessee has billions and billions of dollars to spend and a school funding system that ranks 46th in the country and has landed lawmakers in court. Why isn’t there some big push to make an investment in schools?
The answer is actually pretty simple: Gov. Lee and those in legislative leadership don’t actually believe in public schools.
At a minimum, lawmakers should use the significant surplus of cash to fill the $1.7 billion hole in the BEP identified by the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Affairs (TACIR). They can do this without raising anyone’s taxes and they can do it while still investing in other priorities AND contributing significantly to the state’s rainy day fund.
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