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VOL. 36 | NO. 17 | Friday, April 27, 2012




Lawmakers send budget compromise to governor

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NASHVILLE (AP) — The state's more than $31 billion annual spending plan is headed to the governor after Republicans rejected Democratic efforts to make further changes to the compromise legislation.

The House voted 64-28 to adopt the budget proposal agreed to in a rare conference committee late last week following disagreements over local projects. The Senate passed it 31-2 shortly afterward with little debate.

In the House, the Republican majority quickly dispatched four Democratic proposals that sought to restore regional projects, add funding for higher education to curb tuition hikes and make a further reduction in the state's sales tax on groceries.

Democratic House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley said the changes would be funded through better-than-expected revenue collections that Republicans have refused to include in their projections.

"This is cash in the bank that we simply need to recognize, ladies and gentlemen," Fitzhugh said.

House Finance Chairman Charles Sargent, R-Franklin, said Gov. Bill Haslam's administration wants to keep the extra revenue in reserve to protect against expected cost increases for the state related to the federal health care overhaul.

"Tennesseans can be very proud of the fiscally responsible budget crafted this year," House Speaker Beth Harwell of Nashville said in prepared statements after the budget passed. "In addition to these cuts, we were still able to provide more tax relief for Tennesseans than any year of my tenure, reduce the budget by two percent, and put $50 million away for a rainy day."

House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick agreed.

"We trimmed the fat from the budget and made government more efficient while still funding priorities like education and health, keeping our promise to the voters," said the Chattanooga Republican.

The budget measure appeared headed for easy passage before Democrats brought up a $500,000 item to fund a country music museum in Bristol. House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner of Nashville noted that while the foundation designated to receive the money is located in Tennessee, the actual museum would be located on the Virginia side of the border.

Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, acknowledged that the museum site is located in Virginia, but argued that that's why Tennessee's share of the $4 million project is only $500,000.

Overall, Ramsey said he's pleased with the budget that passed.

"Tonight the General Assembly passed a balanced budget which cuts spending, makes government smaller and provides tax relief to every Tennessean," Ramsey said. "Republicans have proved once again that it matters who governs."

The House budget bill received only one vote from a Democrat, Rep. Gary Odom of Nashville. All votes against the measure came from Democrats.

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TNLedger.com Knoxville Editon
RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 0 0 0
MORTGAGES 0 0 0
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 0 0
BUILDING PERMITS 0 0 0
BANKRUPTCIES 0 0 0
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 0 0
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0