Tennessee Governor Bredesen addresses General Assembly on budget

Nashville (WVLT) - Governor Phil Bredesen outlines a plan to pull Tennessee out of a half a billion dollar hole, and he says no new taxes or talks of reviving an income tax will come into play.

Volunteer TV's Gordon Boyd has the latest.

Normally, you get cheers when you pledge not to raise taxes. When the pledge comes with cuts, you get silence, especially when your audience knows it has few choices.

"It is a time when families have to tighten their belts, and defer the things they like to do. We will do the same,"

The governor comes armed with sales tax records showing last month's collections were the worst in 47 years. Unbusting the budget, he says, means cutting the extra millions, except for kindergarten through high schools. Cutting money for repairs and maintenance at colleges, universities and other state buildings, and figuring out which 2,000 state employees to offer buyouts or early retirements to avoid layoffs.

"It is not something that is going to be offered to everyone," Bredesen said.

"The state has a seven to nine percent turnover anyway. I think we can get through this thing," state Representative Parkey Strader said.

"Well, if they're not essential, and they always have been, then why are we employing them in the first place? If they're not so essential, then how much deeper can they go?" state Representative Stacey Campfield said.

The head of the Tennessee Employee's Association wants to save state jobs by dipping into Tennessee's three quarter billion dollar rainy day fund, which he says would more than cover the governor's projected, and even worse case, of a money shortage.

"This notion of immediately going to fund recurring expenses with no recurring money is exactly what got us into trouble the last time around," Bredesen said.

"If we had an indication that the national economy and state economies were going to pick back up relatively soon, it would be something to consider," state senator Jamie Woodson said.

East Tennessee senators Jamie Woodson and Tim Burchett say the governor's cuts may not pass exactly as proposed, but...

"Folks will bring out new schemes, and there is no new scheme," Burchett said.

"It looks responsible and reasonable, and I think the governor has done a good job," Strader said.

The grunt work comes in committees where no doubt many targets will try to put a face on the pain. Sort of a who gets hurt clause, so many want the surgery to come quickly.

You can read Governor Bredesen's remarks HERE.

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