NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) —Tennessee state lawmakers on Tuesday drilled down on missing millions of dollars.
State lawmakers found that since the 1950s, the University of Tennessee Knoxville has always received in full, it’s annual federal land grant. That money was sent directly to the university but done differently for Tennessee State University. Unlike UT Knoxville, TSU’s money was sent directly to the state treasury department, sparking an investigation lead by state lawmakers.
“What happened to Tennessee State’s money. I’m not talking about the state money. What about the federal money? And if Tennessee State didn’t get their federal – we know they didn’t get their state money,” said Rep. Love.
The federal grant program required the state put in on it too, matching their gift every year. A report out Tuesday shows every year, UT got its federal money and state money in full however, TSU did not always get all of its federal funding,. Lawmakers believe TSU has been shorted tens of millions of dollars. Sometimes, the state didn’t even match TSU’s money.
A chart in the report done by the state’s legislative budget analysis department, shows that in the years that TSU didn’t get all of its money, UT Knoxville received extra money on top of their annual allotment. Here’s why that’s a problem. In order to continue to qualify for the federal grant, state funds had to match the federal dollars. To avoid being dropped from the program, TSU would pull from university funding to match the shortfall, according to Sen. Brenda Gilmore.
“That meant TSU was taking money from one pot in order not to leave funds on the table. There may have been some bright minds we could have provided scholarships to that could have helped us solve world problems regarding hunger and agriculture,” said Sen. Gilmore. “That may have been neglecting maintenance on their building. they may have not been able to grant as many scholarships to future leaders. They may have not been able to do research in agriculture. Who knows.”
State lawmakers say the money’s last known stop was the state treasury department and so far, they’ve not been able to track the money to find out what the office did with it.
Rep. Love said this issue dates back decades. His father, Harold Love, Sr. brought up the same issue and conducted a similar investigation with the same findings in 1970 but Rep. Love, Jr says nothing ever came from it but hopes to change that.
He tells FOX 17 News’ Harriet Wallace when he brought this issue up in 2013, corrective action was made. Since then, TSU has been receiving its full allotment according to the report. Rep. Love and Sen Gilmore say they’re happy it’s now corrected but it’s time for TSU to receive the millions taken from them.
Wallace will do part two of this investigation Wednesday and ask Gov. Lee if TSU will be paid.