VOL. 125 | NO. 109 | Monday, June 7, 2010
Governor: Pleased with Budget Compromise
LUCAS L. JOHNSON II | Associated Press Writer
NASHVILLE (AP) - Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen said he's largely pleased with the latest form of the budget plan that passed the Senate Thursday night.
Members approved the plan 30-3. The House is expected to take it up on Friday.
The proposal is a compromise that legislative leaders from both chambers said they worked out earlier this week. The dissenting Senate votes were from Republicans Dewayne Bunch of Cleveland, Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet and Jim Tracy of Shelbyville.
Bredesen told The Associated Press before a speech to the Complete College America Conference at Nashville's Loveless Cafe that there are "going to be things I don't care for ... but in the end, you take what you can get."
The governor said the areas he found most serious, like children's services and the management structure for Tennessee's "Race to the Top" program, are funded in the latest versions of the budget.
It also contains a relief program for Tennessee flood victims.
"If you have 99.9 percent of the budget right and 0.1 percent is needed to bring the whole thing together, I can live with that stuff," he said.
Bredesen also said that about $600 million that would be maintained in the reserves are adequate.
Earlier Thursday, the House Finance Committee advanced an alternate bill to the floor that doesn't include the road sought by Murfreesboro-based Barrett Firearms Manufacturing. The Tennessee Department of Transportation has objected to the road.
Paul Degges, TDOT's chief engineer, told the panel the night before that the project could run afoul of rules on Interstate rights of way and jeopardize Tennessee's federal road funding.
"But our major concern is ... we're putting an earmarking process into this bill," Degges said.
Republican Rep. Donna Rowland of Murfreesboro, who is engaged to business owner Ronnie Barrett, disputed TDOT's interpretation of the federal law. She argued the road could be built because the state wouldn't be selling the land near the highway.
"That is incorrect, representative," Degges said.
"I disagree," Rowland retorted.
Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville said while he considers Barrett a friend, he was uncomfortable with overruling TDOT.
"I don't know how it's worded, whether it forces them to do so, or urges them to do things," said Ramsey, who is running for governor this year. "But that's a dangerous precedent to set."
Asked whether he planned to follow suit on the Barrett road, Senate Finance Chairman Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, said: "I don't think so."
Associated Press Writer Erik Schelzig contributed to this report.
Read HB3926, HB3928 and HB3928/SB3919 at http://capitol.tn.gov
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