Sen. Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville) has found a new approach to attacking TEA and local associations.
Her proposed legislation would allow a 10 percent withholding tax on associations.
“While we know that deduction of association dues constitutes no expense to the school districts, it’s obvious that this bill is a teacher tax and a direct attack on our association,” said TEA President Barbara Gray. “Last year, we defeated similar attacks by out-of-state special interests three times, and now they are back with new tricks.”
According to the bill’s language, “if a local board of education provides payroll deduction of dues of a professional employees’ organization for its professional employees, then the LEA may withhold up to ten percent (10%) of the dues deducted for administrative expenses.”
This administrative fee functions like a tax on local and state associations. In last year’s payroll fight, the legislative Fiscal Review Committee said that payroll deduction for dues costs boards nothing, because payroll departments already provide for many other deductions for things like supplemental insurance or financial services. The Gresham bill singles out professional associations only for administrative fees.
TEA anticipated that efforts to silence educators would resume in this session in retaliation for our success in defeating private school voucher proposals year after year, and for defending pro-public school legislators from out-of-state special interests in last year’s primaries.
“We are the only professional organization working to protect and advance public education in Tennessee,” Gray said. “As it did last year, defeating attacks on our rights will take in-person meetings, calls to our elected officials and making sure Tennessee educators come to theStatehouse during spring break as part of Civication.”
Gresham was a prime sponsor of the attacks on TEA last year. Even though it was defeated twice before, the payroll deduction bill was resurrected during the final moments of the last Education Administration and Planning Committee in the House in April 2016 – due to an obscure rule that proves that no bad idea is truly dead in the legislature until its members are adjourned for the year.
Then, Gresham attempted to insert the bill into another piece of legislation in the final hours of the session, trying to get the measure directly on the House and Senate floors.
Killing a bad idea four times may be a record for a legislative session.