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Bill Lee increases spending for education in budget

By Teresa P. Crowder
Freelance Writer

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee revealed his $52.5 billion budget proposal last week, which includes a huge focus on increasing K-12 and high education spending. Compared to the previous year, the budget has grown by almost $10 billion due to the federal government’s significant contribution to Tennessee.
Tennessee K-12 schools have been funded using the Basic Education Program (BEP) since 1998. The formula generates a total amount of dollars needed per school system, and it also determines the percentages of responsibilities between the state and local funding bodies. The BEP is under review by Governor Lee and Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn as they intend to create a new formula centered around students. Lee has included allocating a $750 million increase to help fund a unique formula that, if passed, would go into effect in the fiscal year 2024. Until the new formula is approved, Lee proposed spending the $750 million on one-time expenses during the upcoming fiscal year.
A few of those one-time expenses include $500
million on career and technical education grants and $200 million to help fund the construction of 14 new schools located in flood plains.
Governor Lee intends to increase the HOPE scholarship to $5,100 for students at four-year colleges and $3,200 at two-year colleges. The new budget also includes $124.7 million for teacher salary increases and $32 million toward charter school facilities, and $1.2 billion for new capital improvements at colleges around the state. The proposal also includes $90 million to be distributed to public universities to prevent tuition increases next year.
Lee also announced a
plan to spend $6 million to establish the Institute of American Civics at the University of Tennessee
and a partnership with
Hillsdale College, a conservative institution in Michigan well known for not
accepting federal funds.
Other budget highlights include $16 million to hire 100 new Tennessee highway patrol troopers, $50 million into the state’s rainy fund, increasing the fund to $1.6 billion, and $82.7 million would be sent to public hospitals to cover uncompensated care.
Governor Bill Lee’s Budget Document for 2022-2023 can be found by visiting the following site Fiscal Year 2022-2023 Budget Publications (tn.gov).