(The Center Square) – Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill that will raise the minimum wage for K-12 teachers and end the collection of dues for professional employee organizations as an automatic payroll withdrawal.
Senate Bill 281 will go into effect July 1.
The minimum teacher pay will increase incrementally from the current $40,000 to $50,000 for the 2026-27 school year 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.
Lee had proposed the bill and putting the two elements together, so he was expected to sign it.
Bill sponsors 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 Paycheck Protection Act will increase teachers salaries and prevent automatic deductions from their paychecks,” Americans for Prosperity Tennessee State Director Tori Venable said previously. “We thank Gov. Lee for putting these proposals forward and every member of the legislature who voted to prioritize students and teachers over unions.”