Tennessee Governor Faced With Difficult Decisions

By Kyra Inglis

 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UTC/AP) — Tennessee lawmakers have been warned of the difficult budget cuts by Gov. Phil Bredesen.  The governor is scheduled to present his budget proposal to the General Assembly in two weeks, which includes about $900 million in reductions from Tennessee’s current annual spending plan.

 

“There will be something for every legislator to not like in this budget, I promise you,” Bredesen said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. Bredesen says deep cuts will be necessary even if Congress passes a long expected federal relief package.

 

These budget cuts will include significant layoffs of more than 2,000 state employees.  Bredesen says he hopes to be able to reduce that number through a series of adjustments in the state’s civil service laws.

 

Bredesen also warned that even with the federal relief package, he has asked state agencies to prepare spending cuts of 6 percent and 15 percent, since Congress usually tends to want to control where the money is spent.

 

“A lot of it will just depend on what strings are attached,” said Bredesen.  Primary education funding  is the only area that will be spared any cuts, and the Correction Department will only be asked to cut a maximum of 6 percent.

 

Bredesen has also pledged to resist calls to use the state’s budget reserves to avoid the deepest cuts.  Tennessee currently has $1.2 billion in a rainy day fund and it’s Medicare reserves.

 

 

The governor is taking $300 million of those reserves to close a $1 billion budget gap in a fiscal year that ends in June.  He says he doesn’t want the reserves to drop below $700 million to $900 million because of the uncertain time frame of our current economic difficulties.

 

 

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

 

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