Gov. Bill Haslam sees no major changes for Tennessee public colleges

Gov. Bill Haslam sees no major changes for Tennessee public colleges

December 18th, 2012 by Andy Sher in Local - Breaking News

Gov. Bill Haslam

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE - Gov. Bill Haslam said today he doesn't intend to push major changes in how Tennessee's public colleges and universities are governed during the 2013 legislative session that begins next month.

"We won't have anything legislative this year," Haslam said. "We don't have the exact path we're going to go down yet so I don't know exactly what it will look like. Will there be some chance at some point in time we'll have legislative changes? There could be."

But he said at this point the "big challenge is trying to figure out how to control costs and that's so much related to Medicaid ... and second, how do we encourage more students to attend and to graduate."

That includes "doing everything we can" to broad current scholarship programs and helping students attend community colleges free of charge to making better use of online education programs "that might work for some people," Haslam said.

Haslam said he also intends to keep moving ahead with the state's 2010 Complete College Act, which changed higher education funding by rewarding institutions that do a better job of graduating students instead of only reimbursing them for student enrollment.

Meanwhile, the governor said he remains undecided whether he will push a bill creating a school voucher program in which students can use tax dollars to attend religious and other private K-12 schools.