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Haslam presents $34.8B Tennessee spending plan
Kevin Dunlap
Republican Gov. Bill Haslam in his annual State of the State address proposed what he called Tennessee’s largest investment in public education without a tax increase in the state’s history.Haslam’s $34.8 billion spending plan also provides new spending on colleges and universities, road projects and another large deposit into Tennessee’s emergency budget reserves.“Our commitment to education continues in a big way tonight,” Haslam told the joint session of the General Assembly gathered in the House chamber.The governor’s plan calls for $261 million in new funding for K-12 education, including $105 million to pay for teacher raises that are part of Haslam’s efforts to make Tennessee the fastest-improving state in the nation in terms of teacher salaries.“I’m really pleased with the speech and think the governor is listening to the citizens of Tennessee,” said state Rep. Judd Matheny. “It includes increases for capital outlay projects for higher education which we’ve been demanding more and more and we’ve not been able to meet those infrastructure needs.”Matheny said post-secondary enrollment is soaring in Tennessee thanks to programs like Tennessee Promise, which provides two years of free tuition at community colleges and technical schools.