Governor Bill Haslam

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has pledged to improve teacher salaries over the next several years. Haslam said at a news conference yesterday that by the time he leaves office he wants teacher salaries to have grown more than in any other state.

The Republican governor is up for re-election for a second four-year term next year. Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman joined Haslam and said the administration will review national state-by-state salary data to see that Tennessee's are just as competitive.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has hired a former IBM executive as the state's chief operating officer, a new Cabinet-level position in his administration.

Haslam announced today that Greg Adams’ role as COO will be to promote efficiency and effectiveness in state department operations. He starts his new job July 8 with an annual salary of $165,000.

The Tennessee House and Senate speakers say they will seek a review of a no-bid contract with a real estate firm because it once counted Governor Bill Haslam among its investors.

The Haslam administration hired Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle for a $1 million contract to consult on office space issues. That deal has since evolved into a five-year, $38 million contract to manage all state-owned and leased properties outside of higher education. 

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The Tennessee Department of Children's Services said it will charge close to $35,000 to produce public records of children who died, or nearly died, in the past 11 months after having some contact with DCS.  The agency announced the fee Wednesday after the Tennessean requested files from July 2012 to May 2013. 

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Gov. Bill Haslam has signed legislation that clears the way for cities to begin forming municipal school systems.

The measure passed the House 70-24 and the Senate 24-5. It lifts a 1998 ban that forbids municipalities from starting their own school systems, and benefits six Memphis suburbs seeking to bypass a merger of the Shelby County and Memphis school districts and run their own schools.

Both chambers of the Tennessee General Assembly adopted Governor Bill Haslam's $32.8 billion budget proposal.

The Senate unanimously approved the spending plan Wednesday afternoon, and the House followed suit. The House vote came after the chamber rejected a Democratic proposal to include a provision allowing the state to spend up to $3 billion in federal Medicaid money if the governor succeeds in negotiating an expansion under the federal health care law.

Governor Bill Haslam says he was as surprised as anyone that FBI and Internal Revenue Service agents locked down the headquarters of his family’s company Monday.

“They came in looking for certain records, and that’s all I know,” Haslam told reporters at the state capitol.

The governor remains a primary shareholder in Pilot Flying J, which produces $20 billion in annual revenue. He stepped down as president of the company in 1998 to pursue another business venture and eventually enter politics.

Tennessee isn’t saying “yes” to expanding the state’s Medicaid program known as TennCare. But it’s not saying “no” either. Gov. Bill Haslam made the announcement this morning to a joint assembly of the legislature, telling lawmakers he’s been working toward a “third option.”

“To leverage the federal dollars available to our state to transform health care in Tennessee without expanding our TennCare rolls,” he said.

A spokesman says Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam is "likely" to sign into law a bill to allow the state's nearly 400,000 handgun carry permit holders to store firearms in their cars no matter where they are parked. The House on passed the bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Jeremy Faison on a 72 - 22 vote Thursday.

Before the vote, Speaker Beth Harwell assured Republican colleagues that the measure is endorsed by the National Rifle Association and that members of the business community are "holding their noses" about its passage despite concerns about security and property rights.

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State lawmakers raised several reservations but ultimately passed Gov. Bill Haslam’s school voucher program in its first test.

Two members of the House Education Subcommittee voted no, including one Republican. The former school superintendent says he doesn’t believe public money should be diverted to private schools. Democrat Joe Pitts of Clarksville voted no after asking if private schools would be forced to still provide a free lunch. Only poor students could qualify for vouchers under the plan.

“I’m just really concerned that we’re targeting that at-risk population, but we’re really not doing anything else to supply that basic human need, which is food,” Pitts said.

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