(The Center Square) – The Tennessee House approved a bill Wednesday to increase the base teacher salary to $50,000 in the state by the 2026-27 school year. The bill also will remove the option for teachers to have automatic payroll deductions for professional employee organization dues.
Senate Bill 281 passed the Senate 25-6 on March 30 before reaching the House, where an amendment to remove the dues stipulation was removed from the bill via amendment but then added back in after a brief recess.
Bill sponsors have argued the Tennessee Education Association is a political organization and public entities should not be collecting their dues. They said TEA donated $529,000 to candidates in the 2018 election cycle and had assets of $11.5 million with $9.2 million in revenue and $10.9 million in expenses that year.
The pay increase portion of the bill would increase the minimum teacher pay incrementally from the current $40,000 to $50,000 over the stretch by bumping the minimum to $42,000 in the fall, $44,500 the next year and continuing to rise.
A fiscal note on the bill said it would require $125 million of the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement funding formula to be restricted for the pay increase starting next fiscal year and would result in a $1.6 million increase in combined local expenses starting in financial 2026-27.
Because of the amendments, the bill will head back to the Senate for approval before heading to the desk of Gov. Bill Lee, who proposed the legislation.
“The Paycheck Protection Act will increase teachers salaries and prevent automatic deductions from their paychecks,” said Americans for Prosperity Tennessee State Director Tori Venable. “We thank Gov. Lee for putting these proposals forwards and every member of the legislature who voted to prioritize students and teachers over unions.”