Tennessee Gov. Announces 37% Raise for Corrections Officers

Advocate Andy

Move Comes Amid Critical Staffing Shortage

Last week, Gov. Bill announced a 37% salary increase for new correctional officers hired by the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC). The move makes the starting salary for a Tennessee correctional officer $44,500.

The stated rationale for the significant pay boost is a growing shortage of applicants for corrections officer jobs.

In announcing the move, Lee said:

“As we face staffing shortages across the country, rewarding officers with competitive pay will ensure we recruit and retain the most highly qualified individuals in our workforce,” said Gov. Lee. “These Tennesseans play a crucial role in ensuring public safety and we remain committed to valuing their important work.”

The move comes as Tennessee is also facing a teacher shortage.

Tennessee's Teacher Exodus

So far, there has not been discussion of a significant pay raise for teachers.

The current state minimum salary schedule for teachers sets the minimum salary for a Tennessee teacher at $38,000.

A Tennessee teacher with a bachelor’s degree would need to work for 10 years in order to achieve a mandated minimum salary above $44,000.

Now, however, brand new correctional officers will earn more than teachers with 10 years of experience.

Tennessee has a significant budget surplus — $3 billion or more — and so can afford to raise pay for state employees and teachers without raising taxes a single penny.

On the matter of school funding, the Tennessee Education Association issued the following statement:

Tennessee ranks 46th in the nation for what we invest per student. It is irresponsible and harmful to Tennessee children to continue the pattern of insufficient state investment in our schools, especially at a time when Tennessee has the largest revenue surpluses in state history. We can and must do better for our students.  

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Andy Spears is a middle Tennessee writer and policy advocate. He reports on news around public policy issues - education, health care, consumer protection, and more.

Nashville, TN
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