NASHVILLE — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday he's committed to improving the salaries of the state's teachers and plans to provide some degree of funding in his proposed budget to start the process.
The Republican governor began his annual budget hearings with agency leaders at the Capitol with the Education Department and talked about salaries.
Department of Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman didn't provide specific numbers on what an increase for teachers might look like, saying he and the governor need to first see how the overall budget comes together and then explore "what's doable this year" for teachers.
Haslam said at a news conference last month that by the time he leaves office, he wants Tennessee's teacher salaries to have grown more than those in any other state. He and Huffman said at the time that the administration will review national state-by-state salary data each year to see that Tennessee's teacher salaries are competitive.
According to the latest data from the National Education Association, the average salary for classroom teachers nationwide is $56,383, compared with $48,289 in Tennessee.
Haslam told reporters on Tuesday that he's sticking by his words.