A state House Democratic leader criticized Gov. Bill Haslam Wednesday for denying supposedly across-the-board pay raises to state employees who had been disciplined in the past year.
“It’s wrong,” Rep. Mike Turner of Nashville said. “If a state worker does something wrong, there’s a process you go through. This is piling on. The intent of the legislature was to give those raises to everybody. It appears the governor has usurped some legislative power.”
On July 1, Haslam denied the 1.3 percent raises to 771 employees who either had been disciplined or had received poor performance evaluations in the past year. It was the first pay raise for state employees in three years.
The Tennessee State Employees Association protested Haslam’s decision, saying it amounted to punishing the workers twice. More of them might have challenged their disciplinary actions if they had known they would lose the pay raises, TSEA officials said.
Republican legislative leaders supported Haslam. Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey said, “I do agree with the governor on this issue. You reward people with a raise, and if they haven’t been doing a satisfactory job, then [they] ought to be penalized.”