Teachers deserve ‘real pay increase,’ says Sen. Gilmore

State Sen. Brenda Gilmore

Sen. Brenda Gilmore (D-Nashville) says the Lee administration appeared to waver on whether teachers would actually see a pay increase from the governor’s budget recommendation.

“Tennessee teachers deserve to see a real pay increase in their paychecks, “Sen. Gilmore said. “But already today, the finance commissioner wavered when he was asked whether take home pay for teachers would actually go up.”

Answering a question Feb. 4 about teacher salary funding during a budget presentation, finance chief, Stuart McWhorter, said the “intent” was for a pay increase but he declined to guarantee the investment was enough to result in actual paycheck increases for teachers in every district. The night before, Gov. Bill Lee announced his budget would include the “largest investment in K-12 teacher salaries” in state history.

Teachers in the state are earning less today than teachers earned 20 years ago in adjusted dollars, according to a 2019 report by Business Insider.

“We cannot keep defending the broken BEP or calling our schools fully funded if a so-called record investment in teacher salaries doesn’t result in paychecks going up for every teacher in the state,” Gilmore said. “Mr. McWhorter’s hesitation looks to be more evidence of a flawed formula.”

Sen. Gilmore is a member of the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee that heard the governor’s budget presentation.

Democrats in the Tennessee General Assembly are working to bury the false notion that public schools are “fully funded.” On Jan. 29, a group of party leaders called for a $1.5 billion state investment to enhance teacher pay and increase the number of state-funded educators, nurses and social workers.