Haslam, Ramsey post dueling Facebook messages - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Haslam, Ramsey post dueling Facebook messages

Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Gov. Bill Haslam and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey have taken to Facebook to make competing arguments about education proposals being considered by the General Assembly.

The Republican governor in his Monday morning post noted the spirit of cooperation among both parties in helping Tennessee win $500 million in federal Race to the Top education grants last year. He also lamented the "partisan tone" that has emerged since then and could threaten efforts to improve education standards.

"There will be disagreements as the details are worked out, but the issues that divide us cannot be allowed to sidetrack the education reform path that we are on," Haslam wrote.

Haslam's comments also appeared as opinion pieces in The Tennessean of Nashville and The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, said spokesman David Smith.

Ramsey, a Blountville Republican, last week posted what he called an "Open Letter to Conservatives" on Facebook, urging the rejection of a compromise on a contentious measure to curb teachers' collective bargaining rights in Tennessee. The new version of the bill has been endorsed by both Haslam and Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell of Nashville.

"Stand with me in this cause to make sure we as Republicans are who we say we are," Ramsey said in the Facebook message on Thursday. The same statement was issued as a press release the next day.

The Senate bill would do away with collective bargaining altogether, while the House version would only exempt certain areas like merit pay and evaluations from union negotiations.

Haslam did not specifically mention collective bargaining in his post, which is in keeping with his preference to focus on his own education agenda that includes changes to teacher tenure rules and lifting a cap on charter schools. But the governor does appear to address Ramsey's point on Republican politics.

"Those of us in elected office typically run in partisan races, and after the election we are asked to work together," Haslam said. "That does not mean abandoning the principles that we hold. I was elected Governor as a Republican, and those principles are what guide me as I lead the state.

"There are, however, also times when partisan barriers should be lowered, and that time is now in Tennessee as we shape our education reform agenda."

The Tennessee Tea Party in an email to supporters on Monday said as many as 47 House members support the original version of the bill - just three short of the minimum needed - and urged that emails be sent to the 20 Republican lawmakers the group has identified as waffling on the measure.

"Harwell is in lockstep with Governor Haslam, who has proved himself weak on a variety of issues confronting our state," the Tea Party email read.

Read HB0130 at: http://capitol.tn.gov

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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