SAYS MONTGOMERY COUNTY DEFENSE DOLLARS SHOULD NOT BE JEOPARDIZED
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (11/8/23)
NASHVILLE—Clarksville Democratic State Representative Ronnie Glynn says the state should reject a proposal to replace federal education grants with state dollars, saying it’s a bad idea to consider. Rep. Glynn has spent the week as part of the Joint Working Group on Federal Education Funding. The task force was created and appointed by House Speaker Cameron Sexton and Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally to examine the benefits, if any, of using state funds to annually replace over $1 billion in federal education dollars. However, after a week’s worth of meetings, Rep. Glynn says the committee should concede that the proposal won’t work.
Today capped three days of testimony this week by the Comptroller’s office, the Fiscal Review Committee, an independent think-tank, a national policy organization of state lawmakers, and local Tennessee school directors representing both rural and urban school districts from across the state.
Most notably, yesterday a cross-section of county school directors said they want to continue to receive the federal funds, because they desperately need money. The superintendent of rural Hawkins County told the panel how he had to ask his county for a tax increase in order to replace the roofs on two county schools. The superintendent of Memphis-Shelby County schools described how she has many kids going to school in buildings that are a century old and the district does not have the money to build new schools. The educators all agreed that if the state has the money to replace the federal government’s annual billion-dollar plus investment some of those dollars should be given to state schools in addition to, not instead of, the federal grants.
Representative Glynn, who is one of only two Democrats appointed to the working group, said the testimony this week made it so resoundingly clear that rejecting funds is a bad idea and that the working group should go ahead and call it quits, saving taxpayers the money of paying for his colleagues’ per diems: “We are telling local officials and school superintendents that we can replace more than a billion dollars that the federal government provides us with state money when we have school buildings crumbling around our students. They shouldn’t have to depend on raising taxes to educate our children. Instead of replacing federal dollars, we should take the money these Republicans claim to be sitting on and invest it in our teachers, students and school infrastructure needs.”
Today, a representative of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) also confirmed for Rep. Glynn that it is possible that other federal funds could be jeopardized if the education dollars are rejected. Glynn said he’s “very, very concerned” about that possibility since Montgomery County receives one million dollars in Defense Department funding.
Glynn summed it all up by saying that after all he and fellow lawmakers heard this week, “I’m wondering what else is there for us to talk about? This is a mistake. This is a bad idea.”
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