KNOXVILLE — A class of University of Tennessee M.B.A. students got an unexpected lesson in state finances when the governor visited Wednesday while inspecting the condition of Glocker Hall.
Gov. Don Sundquist, on a statewide tour of programs and facilities inadequately funded by the current state budget, fielded questions from UT graduate students in finance.
Sundquist said his budget proposal had included $23.5 million to renovate and add to the aging building, but the bare-bones budget passed by the Legislature eliminated that and other improvements to the university.
“What I’ve found here is that we’re not considering anymore what is best for our students and our educational system,” Sundquist said. “What we’re trying to figure out now is what will do the least harm.
“That’s not the kind of state that Tennessee ought to be. We can do better than this.”
Business Dean Jan Williams and Associate Dean David Schumann walked the governor through Glocker, which was built in 1952 to house business classes. The tour showed peeling plaster, rooms too small for large classes and spaces unfit for modern electronic educational technologies.
Schumann, who chairs the committee to renovate Glocker, said the building’s one small elevator does not provide disability access to more than half of the facility,
Sundquist said only two or three more votes in the state Senate were needed to pass an adequate budget. Knox County senators are not supporting state revenue collections reform, he said.
“In all the years I’ve had not one industry come in and say, ‘Do you have an income tax or a flat tax?’ but every single industry that looks to come to Tennessee says, ‘How’s your educational system,’ ” Sundquist said. “We’re not going to continue to attract new industry and better jobs if we don’t have a good educational system.”
Sundquist is considering vetoing the current budget and asking legislators to consider a bipartisan “solution budget” to adequately fund for education and other state needs. Earlier this week, he visited educational facilities in Memphis, Milan and Johnson City.