Sen. Alexander: Revised Labor rule could spike Tenn. college tuition

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander

KINGSPORT — Senate labor committee Chairman Lamar (R-Tenn.) Alexander said on May 4 that the administration’s reported plans to revise its proposed overtime rule “won’t do much to protect students from tuition hikes” — as one Tennessee independent college estimated the revised rule could increase tuition by nearly $850 per student.

Politico reported earlier that the administration is planning to lower the salary threshold in its forthcoming rule to extend overtime coverage from $50,440 to $47,000, meaning employers would be required to pay overtime to workers making a salary of $47,000 or less.

Today, employers must pay overtime to workers who make a salary of $23,660 or less.

“The Labor Department’s reported new proposal is no favor to Tennessee college students who attend the state’s independent colleges, as one Tennessee independent college has estimated that the revised rule could increase tuition by nearly $850 per student, and at least two independent colleges in Tennessee are expecting their costs to increase more than $1 million annually thanks to the department’s proposal,” Alexander said. “If the president wants to talk about the keeping college costs down, how can he justify a rule that may cost students in tuition hikes and cost employees in job cuts? I have joined Senator Scott in introducing legislation to overturn this disastrous proposal and will consider all options to help protect Tennessee colleges and businesses alike.”

In 2015, the Department of Labor released a proposal that would more than double the salary threshold under which employees qualify for overtime pay.

The department’s proposed rule will result in workers having less flexibility and opportunity for advancement in the workplace.

At an Appropriations subcommittee hearing on March 17, Senator Alexander asked U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez why the Labor Department would move forward with its proposed Overtime Rule “if the president is going to go around, saying ‘we want to keep college costs down.’”