Nearly 1,000 State Employees On Food Stamps - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Nearly 1,000 State Employees On Food Stamps

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by Tim Wetzel

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Nearly 1,000 Tennessee state employees have such low salaries that they must rely on government assistance to put food on their tables.

Robert O'Connell with the Tennessee State Employee Association said they were shocked when they discovered the number of state workers on food stamps.

"We were floored by the number of people," said O'Connell. "I don't think Tennesseans are going to be proud that we are paying this large group not enough to feed their families."

The TSEA fired off a letter to Governor Bill Haslam demanding the state pay more. The group believes part of the problem is that state salaries haven't kept up with the cost of living.

After it made a public records request, the state employee association learned 964 state workers were on food stamps.

The Department of Environment and Conservation had 129 employees on food stamps.

The Department of Corrections had 191 employees on public aid, and the Department of Human Services had 228 workers on welfare.

Ironically, DHS which gives out food stamps, had the largest number of workers on the program.

O'Connell said if salaries aren't raised, state workers will start to leave the public sector.

"You won't have your potholes patched. You won't have the drunk driver stopped by the highway patrolman, and you won't have the DCS worker saving some children, if you don't pay them enough," said O'Connell. "Eventually people of quality will leave public service.

According to the TSEA, some state workers make as little as $14,000 a year. The medians salary for a state employee is $31,000 a year.

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