Haslam signs state's $31B spending plan

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Gov. Bill Haslam has signed the state's more than $31 billion annual spending plan.

The budget includes funding for reducing the sales tax on groceries from 5.5 percent to 5.25 percent, increasing the exemption for the inheritance tax from $1 million to $1.25 million and enhanced penalties for gang and gun crimes.

The House voted 63-27 to adopt the budget proposal agreed to in a rare conference committee following disagreements over local projects. The Senate passed it 31-2 shortly afterward with little debate.

According to a spokesman for the Senate speaker, the last time a conference committee was held on the budget was in 2000.

The governor also signed into law a bill to allow the state to exceed a constitutional spending cap long championed by Republicans.

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