TN Democrats Want Special Session To Stop College Tuition Hike

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(Memphis) Some Tennessee state legislators want to go back to work this summer to deal with a matter they say can't wait until next year.

They want to lower the sales tax on groceries for a second time this year, and they want to shield students heading to college this fall from big tuition increase.
The Democrats are calling for Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to call them back to work in Nashville.

They say new information developed after they recessed this spring, and what they learned could save taxpayers millions right away.

Governor Haslam signed the papers to lower the sales tax on groceries at the beginning of June.

The governor pledges to do the same next year, but the head of the state Democratic caucus says there's enough money to do that right now and he wants to stop the 6% to 8% tuition hike being considered by the Board of Regents for all Tennessee colleges and universities.

"The funding board came back after we adjourned and disclosed that we had over $225 million of unallocated revenue and that happened after we left Nashville," said TN State Sen. Lowe Finney, (D) Jackson.

Sen. Finney is leading the charge for the special session along with other Tennessee Democrats.

The sales tax on groceries could be lowered during the next regular session, but Democrats say when it comes to tuition timing is everything.

"You have students who are trying to go back to school, who are going to get that new tuition bill that's gone up $400 to $500. From my perspective it's better to deal with that now rather than wait until January because they're going to be asked to pay that bill in just the next few weeks," said Finney.

The Governor wants to study the issue over the summer.

Meanwhile, Finney says some lawmakers feel so strongly about going back into session, they're willing to work for free.

He says so far, a good number of them are willing to forgo their per diem for the estimated three days it will take to complete this special session.