TC Weber Explains New Bill That Would Increase Salary and Offer Payroll Deduction Options for Tennessee Teachers

Apr 20, 2023

Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Tennessee Star education reporter TC Weber in studio to discuss the recent bill passed that would increase teacher salaries and options for payroll deductions.

Leahy: In studio, the very best education reporter in the entire state of Tennessee, Mr. TC Weber. TC, some news yesterday.

Weber: Some far-reaching and important news yesterday.

Leahy: Let’s talk about this bill. It had several elements to it. It passed the House that increased teachers’ wages but also had some options there with regard to payroll deductions. Tell us a little bit about this bill, if you could, please.

Weber: So the union for years and Jim Rye, who’s a union lobbyist, in particular, has irritated legislators. And this year they put in a bill that would say teachers will start a salary, will get up to $50,000 within five years.

There’s a raise every year over the next five years, but they’re going to end payroll deduction. And basically, it was that people were tired. Republicans specifically were tired of the union taking teachers’ money as they were giving them more money, and then turning around and funding candidates that were fighting against them.

And so that was the impetus of it all. There was a chance that the bill wouldn’t go through because there were quite a few Republicans, or not quite a few, but there was a significant number of Republicans that felt it was two issues.

There was a teacher race, and then there was another issue, which was the issue of union dues. And the argument also was that firemen and police don’t have payroll deductions, but they don’t lobby as much as the teachers’ union does.

Ultimately the finance committee Charlie Baum, being an economics professor at MTSU, felt very strongly that there were two subjects and he tried to pass it through finance and means taking the amendment, the poison pill, they like to call it off. But ultimately, they decided that was not in the purview of the finance committee. The amendment was put back on, and yesterday it passed. And payroll deduction for teachers is no more.

Leahy: In the House, it passed.

Weber: I believe it passed in the Senate too. So this is a done deal.

Leahy: Will this be signed by the governor?

Weber: I believe it will be.

Leahy: Interesting. And what’s the impact of this gonna be on the Tennessee Education Association?

Weber: I think the TEA is suddenly gonna find them some scrambling to set up because you can still do bank account withdrawals and do all of that. But then again, the administrative costs with that go up. So they’re gonna suddenly find themselves trying to struggle to keep up and keep members engaged.

My wife’s a teacher and we’ve been a member of the union for around 15, 16 years now. Now we have to stand back and go wait a minute. Our bank account, we’ve got to set that up, and we’ve got to keep those cards straight and how much money. And we’ll start to see what dues really look like.

Leahy: If it’s an automatic payroll deduction, you don’t really notice it. Is it FICA, or is it regular federal income tax? You don’t pay attention to that package.

Weber: No. Ultimately, we all look at what the bottom line of our paycheck is, and we get used to it, and we budget accordingly. Now it’s another item that we’ll have to put in the budget.

Leahy: It’s interesting because this is probably gonna surprise some of our listeners, but and I’m not a big fan at all of K-12 public education in any arena for any number of reasons about it, basically propagandizing our kids. But I will say this being a teacher is a very hard job.

Weber: It’s an extremely difficult job, and it’s getting harder, especially with discipline issues on the rise.

Leahy: Exactly.

Webers: And then we look at the antics this past week of the Three the, I guess they’re calling them the Tennessee Me.

Leahy: The Tennessee Me Three.

Weber: And we can have disruptive behavior like this, and it does not model behavior in the classroom.

Leahy: That’s a very good point.

Weber: We’ve made heroes out of these three, and what’s to keep a kid from disrupting class and not be considered a hero themselves?

Leahy: I will say this, and this will probably surprise some of our listeners, if you’re gonna do K-12 public education, which I think ultimately for any number of reasons is not going to work in the country, that public school teachers that are trying, even here in Tennessee with these raises, compared to other states K-12 public school teachers in Tennessee are paid much less than other states.

And frankly, if you’re gonna make a K-12 public school system work, you’ve got to pay teachers more. A, but B, you’ve got to give them the freedom to follow a curriculum and not be wokesters which is what the educrats want them to be.

Weber: And to be perfectly clear, as union members for the last few years, we support the actions of the union when they protect the working conditions of teachers, it’s some of the political areas that we have questions about.

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

– – –

Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.