NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston) announced today that Senate Bill 720 has been signed into law. The law creates a Middle College Scholarship Program to offset costs for bright high school students looking to get a head start on their college degrees.

Middle College is a public community college program that, in partnership with the local education agency (LEA), permits high school students to earn both a high school diploma and an associate degree during their junior and senior years. Although the program facilitates a seamless transition to post-secondary education, due to the requirement that recipients have a high school degree, the students have not been eligible for the Tennessee Promise Scholarship.

“This is a program that encourages our best and brightest to get a jump start on their education and compliments the governor’s Drive to 55 to accelerate the number of Tennesseans with post-secondary degrees or certifications,” said Sen. Yager. “The students in this program are not receiving any deferential treatment. They are attending high school part time, fulfilling all the requirements, and taking regular college courses. It is a very rigorous program. Unfortunately these students do not qualify for the Tennessee Promise Scholarship which requires a high school degree. So, these students have to pay for the program out of their own pockets with the cost factor discouraging many bright students from participating in this program.”

The bill calls for a grant of $600 per semester, or $1,200 per year, to offset the cost of tuition and books during the two-year program. It also expands eligibility for the Tennessee HOPE Scholarship to students who complete Middle College.

Middle College students are among the most sought-after students in the nation by four-year colleges and universities and typically achieve 100 percent proficiency on high school benchmark exams.  On average, 90 percent of Middle College graduates transfer to a four-year college or university.

“For these bright and motivated students, the most difficult part of taking high school and college classes at the same time should be the coursework, not how to pay for being a high achiever,” added Sen. Yager. “I am proud to see this relief for students become law.”

Governor Bill Haslam & Senator Yager

Governor Bill Haslam & Senator Yager

Below are the results from the 2017 constituent survey. Thanks to the 5,023 constituents who took the time to respond. For a specific county, click on the links associated with it.

Short Description of Questions

  1. Concealed Carry Permits
  2. Death Penalty
  3. School Vouchers
  4. Handgun Carry on Campus
  5. Illegal Immigrant Benefits
  6. IMPROVE ACT
  7. Medical Marijuana
  8. Motorcyclist Helmets
  9. Maintenance Outsourcing
  10. Maintenance Outsourcing #2
  11. Recreational Marijuana
  12. Bible as State Book
  13. Cigarette Buying Age
  14. Insure Tennessee
  15. Most Important Issue in Tennessee
  16. Broadband Internet Access

For the exact questions as seen in the questionnaire, please click here.

Total District 12

Questions #1-14 please click here.

Question #15 please click here.

Campbell County

Questions #1-14 please click here.

Question #15 please click here.

Fentress County

Questions #1-14 please click here.

Question #15 please click here.

Morgan County

Questions #1-14 please click here.

Question #15 please click here.

Pickett County

Questions #1-14 please click here.

Question #15 please click here.

Rhea County

Questions #1-14 please click here.

Question #15 please click here.

Roane County

Questions #1-14 please click here.

Question #15 please click here.

Scott County

Questions #1-14 please click here.

Question #15 please click here.

Undesignated Counties

Questions #1-14 please click here.

Question #15 please click here.

NASHVILLEA proposal raising the rate of reimbursement for professionals providing care to Tennessee’s most vulnerable citizens was presented by State Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston) today during a meeting of the Senate Finance Committee’s Appropriation Subcommittee.  Yager presented the $21 million amendment to increase the current reimbursement rate of $8.73 per hour by $1.00 for direct support professionals who provide home and community-based services through the Department of Intellectual Disabilities (DIDD) to stave off serious loss of personnel.

Personal care and home health are among the fastest growing occupations.  Home and community-based service providers are experiencing an unprecedented 46 percent turnover rate of direct support professionals as jobs with less stress and responsibility are widely available for higher pay. 

“It is the direct support professionals that care for our most vulnerable citizens, those who have intellectual, developmental and age-related disabilities,” said Senator Yager.  “This woefully uncompetitive hourly rate has only seen an increase of 48 cents over the last 10 years.     Amendment 70 to increase the hourly rate comes at a critical time when the state is being required to meet federal mandates to integrate the intellectually and developmentally disabled into the workforce or risk losing Medicaid funding.”

 If the reimbursement rate had risen with inflation since 2006, it is estimated the pay would now be at least $10.16 per hour.  The $20 million investment proposed by the amendment is expected to bring in an additional $40 million in federal funds for Tennessee. 

“This amendment would have a positive economic impact for Tennessee communities,” Yager added.  “But the most important factor is what the increase means to workers who are generally there because they love working with this vulnerable population.  They can only do that for so long and provide support for their families or make ends meet.  I hope that we will receive a favorable vote to help keep these workers on the job.”

The committee was tasked with hearing appropriations amendments today but will vote on each proposal at a later date which has not yet been scheduled.