NASHVILLE — Senate Republican Speaker Ron Ramsey and other Republicans are standing by their effort to end union negotiations entirely rather than a House GOP compromise backed by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.
“Last November, Tennesseans issued a mandate to the Republican majority to institute bold and meaningful education reform,” Ramsey, of Blountville, said in a statement today. “Sen. Jack Johnson's bill to outlaw locking taxpayers into funding union contracts is a prime example of the kind of reform Tennesseans have requested.”
House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, said the compromise came about as he and other GOP leaders looked at the bill, talked to members, “took the best ideas and tried to rally around something that would affect the kids in the classrooms.”
He said he spoke with Haslam about the issue, but it was not an administration proposal. Haslam has been neutral on the Senate plan, saying he preferred to focus on his own priorities — toughening teacher tenure requirements and opening up charter schools to more students.
Among other things, the House bill would prevent the Tennessee Education Association and its affiliates from bargaining over merit pay for teachers and differential pay for educators in hard-to-fill subjects and in less-desirable schools.
The sponsor of the Senate version, Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, said he preferred to ban collective bargaining outright. He suggested the House bill could change yet again through the committee process.
“I think it’s very important that we elected a governor with 65 percent of the vote and he’s very comfortable with this amendment that the House put on,” McCormick said. “And since he did get elected governor, I think we ought to defer to him and his priorities from time to time. This is one of those times.”
Haslam and Ramsey ran against each other in the three-man Republican primary last August, which Haslam won.
Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...