Tennessee state government salary

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State Information

This page describes the compensation, salaries and benefits that Tennessee's public employees receive from state and local government.

Legislator salaries

See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2010, Tennessee state legislators received an annual salary of $19,009.[1] Legislators received a per diem of $185 per legislative day.[1]

State executive salaries

See also: Compensation of state executive officers
State executive salaries[2]
Office '10 salary Current official
Governor $170,340 Bill Haslam
Lieutenant Governor $57,027 Ron Ramsey
Secretary of State $180,000 Tre Hargett
Attorney General $165,336 Robert E. Cooper, Jr.
Treasurer $180,000 David Lillard, Jr.

As of 2010, the salary of Tennessee's governor ranked 8th among U.S. governors' salaries. The average salary earned by U.S. governors was $128,735. The median salary earned by U.S. governors was $129,962. The state constitution mandates that the governor and Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court receive the same salary.

Gov. Bill Haslam signed an executive order on his first day in office eliminating a requirement for the governor and top aides to disclose how much they earn, applying the same rules that apply to members of the General Assembly, requiring them to list sources of income, but not how much they make.[3]

Judicial salaries

See also: State court budgets and judicial salaries
Tennessee judicial salaries[4]
Position '10 salary Current justice
Chief Justice $170,340 Gary Wade
Associate Justice $165,336 Janice Holder
Associate Justice $165,336 Cornelia Clark
Associate Justice $165,336 Sharon Lee
Associate Justice $165,336 William Koch

As of 2010, the salary of Tennessee's chief justice ranked 14th among U.S. chief justices' salaries. The average salary earned by U.S. chief justices was $154,707. The median salary earned by U.S. chief justices was $151,284.

As of 2010, the salaries of Tennessee's associate justices ranked 13th among U.S. associate justices' salaries. The average salary earned by U.S. associate justices was $151,142. The median salary earned by U.S. associate justices was $145,984.[4]

State and local employees

Under the FY 2013 Tennessee state budget and finances approved by the legislature on April 30, 2012, state employees and teacher would receive a 2.5 percent raise.[5]

In June 2010 the state's total payroll as projected at nearly $2.8 billion. At that time there were about 44,000 state government jobs paid for through the general fund, averaging $41,000 in salary and benefits. Another 23,800 people worked in higher education.[6]

According to 2008 U.S. Census data, the state of Tennessee and local governments in the state employed a total of 369,578 people.[7] Of those employees, 306,328 were full-time employees receiving net pay of $1,043,980,357 per month and 63,250 were part-time employees paid $51,602,338 per month.[7] More than 52% of those employees, or 192,840 employees, were in education or higher education.[7]

Teacher salaries

Teacher salaries[8]
Beginning teacher salary Average salary
$32,525 $45,549


Protests at the state Capitol at times included thousands of those opposed to the collective-bargaining bill and to other measures in the legislature that would limit the power of unions. On March 15, 2011, seven protesters were arrested at the state Capitol.[9]

Companion bills were pending in the Tennessee House and Senate that would end collective bargaining by teachers, making it so that Tennessee school districts would no longer have to negotiate with teachers' unions.[10] The Senate Education Committee approved Senate Bill 0113 along party lines by a vote of 6-3 on February 16, 2011.[10]

Supporters of the bills noted that none of Tennessee's neighboring states required collective bargaining with teachers, and that the teachers' negotiating rights were unique among public employees.[10] Arguing against the bill, a lobbyist for the Tennessee Education Association said that the legislation unfairly targeted teachers.[10] Opponents also said the move took away the assurance that teachers would be compensated at fair levels, noting that Tennessee teacher salaries were below the national average.[11]

State employee benefits


State employees receive the following 11 paid holidays:[12]

  • New Year's Day
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • Presidents' Day
  • Good Friday
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Veterans Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas

Annual leave

Full-time employees earn annual leave each month at a rate based on years of service as follows:[13]

Years of service Annual leave earned per month Maximum allowable days
0 up to 5 1 day 30 days
5 up to 10 1 and ½ days 36 days
10 up to 20 1 and ¾ days 39 days
20 or more 2 days 42 days

Sick leave

All full-time employees accrue 1 day (7.5 hours) of sick leave per month, provided they work the major portion of that month.[13]

Bereavement leave

Leave with pay is granted for three days in the event of the death of an employee's spouse, child, stepchild, grandchild, parents, grandparents, siblings, stepparents, foster parents, or parents-in-law without charge to the employee's leave time. Two additional days of sick leave may be granted to provide a total of five days absence for this purpose.[13]


Employees can select among three health insurance plans: a PPO, a POS, and an HMO.[14] For each plan, the state pays $430.48 for an employee who has individual coverage and $1,074.75 for an employee with family coverage.[15]

Dental insurance is available to employees, and employees pay the full cost of the premium.[15]

The state provides, at no cost to employees, $20,000 of basic term life insurance and $40,000 of basic special accident coverage. For employees who elect health coverage, the amount of coverage increases as the employee's salary increases, with premiums for coverage above $20,000/$40,000 deducted from the employee's paycheck. The maximum amount of coverage is $50,000 for term life and $100,000 for accidental death and dismemberment. The amount of coverage declines when the employee is older than 65.[16]

Eligible dependents of employees enrolled in health coverage are covered for $3,000 of basic dependent term life coverage. Dependents are eligible for basic special accident insurance, with the amounts of coverage based on salary and family composition.[16]

Optional supplemental coverage

Long-term care coverage is an optional benefit available to employees, who pay the full cost of the premium.[15] Optional special accident coverage is available to employees, as is universal life and term life insurance.[16]


See also: Tennessee public pensions

All full-time state employees are covered by the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System, a defined benefit pension plan. The state contributes 13.64% of an employee's salary.[17]

Employees may choose to make pre-tax contributions to a variety of investment options through the 401(k) plan or the 457 plan. A minimum $20 monthly contribution is required to participate in the plans. For the 401(k) plan, the state will match the $50 per month minimum contribution. The $50 match policy is evaluated on an annual basis.[13]

Other benefits

  • Longevity pay - Beginning with the completion of 36 months of creditable state service (1,600 hours or more worked in a fiscal year), employees receive an annual payment of $100.00 for each year of creditable state service to a maximum of 30 years of service ($3,000).[13]
  • Flexible benefits plan[13]
  • Higher education fee discounts and waivers - A 25% discount on undergraduate tuition at any state operated institution of higher learning in Tennessee is available to children 23 years of age or under of full-time state employees. In addition, full-time state employees with six months of continuous service are eligible to have tuition fees waived for one course per semester at a state institution.[13]
  • The Employee Assistance Program is a confidential counseling and referral service for all employees and their dependents. All services are strictly confidential and can be accessed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.[13]

See also

External links