KNOXVILLE – Calling a continued shutdown of state government “unendurable” and “unacceptable,” University of Tennessee President John W. Shumaker spent the day in Nashville, talking to members of the General Assembly about the importance of financial support for the university.
Legislators continued debating different revenue plans, some favoring a sales tax increase and some favoring the creation of a state income tax.
“This is not a theoretical, academic exercise,” Shumaker said of the shutdown. “This is touching the lives of real people, our faculty and staff, and most importantly, our students, who are our primary constituency.”
Around 5,800 UT employees are based in Knoxville, and more than half of them stayed home Monday, leaving many buildings and staff parking lots empty.
“There were a lot of worried employees today,” Shumaker said, “and the campuses were quiet, almost morgue-like in terms of their silence. People seem to be disappointed but understanding, hoping that this terrible impasse will not last much longer.”
State legislators are on a tight deadline, because the emergency funding that keeps essential state services operating only lasts through Friday, July 5.