Published Online: February 8, 2005
Published in Print: February 9, 2005, as Tennessee

State of the States

Tennessee

Prekindergarten Program a Priority for Bredesen

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Tennessee could soon receive a long-awaited universal pre-K program, new teacher-training programs, and more money for elementary and secondary education, at the expense of its health-care fund for low-income residents.

Gov. Phil Bredesen

Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, presented his $11.2 billion state budget proposal for fiscal 2006 during his State of the State Address on Jan. 31.

The $4 billion K-12 budget includes an $87 million increase for the state’s basic education program, which uses enrollment and other factors to determine per-pupil funding.

The budget plan also adds $25 million to expand the state’s prekindergarten and early-childhood programs, mainly for poor children, and $5 million for a professional-development academy for teachers. It would give teachers and other state employees a 1 percent pay raise and a 1 percent bonus. Gov. Bredesen pledged that more money would be added to the pre-K programs until every 4-year-old has access to classes.

For More Info
Read a transcript of the governor's address, from Stateline.org.

The governor has called for scaling back the state’s TennCare program, which provides health insurance for low-income residents, to pay for the education programs. ("Tennessee Governor Seeks Pre-K," Jan. 5, 2005.)

Mr. Bredesen said that TennCare has taken all of the state’s new revenues in recent years, shortchanging education and other priorities. “We are re- establishing our fiscal priorities in this budget,” he said. “For the first time in a long time, we’re balancing TennCare with all the critical needs of our state, including education.”

Vol. 24, Issue 22, Page 20

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