Gov. Bill Haslam said Friday that he expects to know by the end of the summer whether a deal can be reached with federal officials over TennCare expansion. The Tennessean says this is the first time he has suggested a timetable for a final decision on the issue.
“It’s not a question of lack of dialogue,” Haslam told reporters after a Memorial Day commemoration on War Memorial Plaza. “I think if we haven’t made real progress by this summer, it’ll show that we’re not going to.”
… Haslam said state officials continue to negotiate toward a compromise. He named Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, as one of the officials they have met.
“Marilyn actually lived in Nashville for awhile, understands Tennessee very well,” he said “We’ve had very frank conversations with her that have given me a lot of encouragement.”
Note: More details in the Commercial Appeal, HERE.
Gov. Bill Haslam wants to spend a lot of time this summer studying what else should be done in the way of education reform, according to Mike Morrow, writing in TNReport.
Haslam envisions an all-encompassing look at education, even after the dramatic education reform efforts in this year’s session of the Tennessee General Assembly.
“I think what we have to do with education is really take a whole fresh look at everything, from how long students go to school to how we compensate teachers so we make certain we’re rewarding them for a great job,” Haslam said.
“This session had a lot of discussion about teachers and tenure and looking at collective bargaining. I think the next piece we need to discuss, if we’re really going to have a great education system, is: How do we attract and keep the very best people in teaching?”
For all the drama of changes in education this year, legislative measures on teacher tenure, charter schools and collective bargaining might simply be setting the table for further action.
Change agents Kevin Huffman, the new commissioner of education, and Chris Barbic, who will head Tennessee’s special school district for failing schools, are just now settling into their new jobs. Both came from the innovative Teach for America program. Huffman recently told the editorial board of The Tennessean that the school calendar in Tennessee is “not based on the modern world.” The state currently requires 180 days of school with 6.5 hours of instruction each day..
Lawmakers may have headed home en masse for the year, but smaller bands and bunches of them will drop back in the Capitol from time to time over the next several months to reconsider issues left in limbo during the regular session, observes TNReport..
The hope is, at least among sponsors of the bills, that doubts and disagreements over the details of the proposed legislation can be worked out and the legislation will have a better shot of passage next year.
Almost two dozen bills were sent to “summer study” for further review this year, giving lawmakers more time during the legislative off-season to explore the ins, outs and implications of potentially controversial or complicated issues before the 2012 session.
Many times, lawmakers shove those bills into the study committee meetings to get the legislation out of the committee’s hair without rejecting it. Other times, they take those study committees seriously and spend months examining policy, statistics and reports to determine whether it’s worth changing the law.
From Richard Locker:
The Tennessee legislature made two changes in the state’s lottery scholarship program today – allowing the scholarships for summer school for the first time and limiting their use to 120 hours of academic credit in most cases.
The changes are effective for students who received their first Hope scholarships in the fall of 2009 and thereafter.
“I think this is a step in the right direction. It encourages students to move at a faster pace,” said state Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, the bill’s Senate sponsor.
The Senate approved the bill 27-1 this afternoon and sent it to Gov. Bill Haslam, who applauded the bill’s passage and will sign it into law. Haslam proposed the measure (HB2010) allowing the lottery-funded scholarships for summer school, and the legislature added the 120-hour limit to deal with a deficit between lottery proceeds and the costs of the scholarships.
Lawmakers had also considered raising the high school grade-point average required to qualify for Hope scholarships, from 3.0 to 3.2 but it appears that measure won’t pass this year.
Senate Democratic Minority Leader Jim Kyle of Memphis said the 120 hour limit will mean some students will exhaust their lottery scholarships before obtaining undergraduate degrees. He said the average Tennessee public university student graduates with 133 hours of credit.
See also the News Sentinel report, HERE, which focuses on the 120-hour limit.