Haslam talks education, economy in State of the State address - WSMV Channel 4

Haslam talks education, economy in State of the State address

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Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam delivered his fourth State of the State address Monday evening at the state capitol, and the focus was on two big priorities for the year: education and the budget.

The governor unveiled enhanced plans for K-12 progress and higher education. He also talked about the challenges the state faces budget-wise.

Haslam unveiled his new budget plan earlier in the day Monday.

The state will not meet revenue projections, and the governor blames slower-than-expected growth in the sales tax and in the franchise and excise taxes.

That comes as the state faces the expansion of expenses in some key areas like TennCare.

So, with that in mind, the state will look for cuts in most every state department and work to meet needs rather than wants.

But this budget also calls for notable increased spending for the state departments of children's services, education, and intellectual and developmental disabilities, which the governor called top priorities this time around.

"People think the hardest thing to do is when you have a short budget. The hardest thing really is when you have a budget that exceeds projections, because then everybody has an idea for how to spend that. Now, if you'll remember last year at this time, our budget exceeded projections, and so there were a lot of ideas about, you know, 'We should go on a budget amendment and spend that additional money.' Years like this remind you of why you don't want to do that," Haslam said.

State lawmakers said the governor wants to emphasize his goal of improving Tennessee's graduate rates from colleges and universities from the current 32 percent to 55 percent by 2025.

Haslam calls the initiative "Drive to 55."

The governor's budget plan calls for a 1-percent pay raise for all state workers, along with a 2-percent pay raise for public school teachers.

Other items on the governor's agenda include creating prescription requirements to purchase large amounts of cold medications used to make illegal methamphetamine.

Copyright 2014 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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