More Budget Battle Reports

Talking About Breaking Off Talks
Republican senators adopted their budget plan in Senate Finance Committee, reports Chas Sisk, after “abruptly breaking off talks with House negotiators, setting up an election-year showdown led by one of the Republican candidates for governor.”
Included in the article is some of the back-and-forth commentary. An excerpt:
(Lt. Gov. Ron) Ramsey said the tough line taken on the budget was consistent with his campaign statements. But he denied that political considerations factored into his thinking.
“I think I would probably be better off to be out of here (the legislative session) right now,” he said. “But I want to continue doing the job I’m hired on to do.
“I’m the lieutenant governor. I’m the speaker of the Senate. You finish that job before you go onto the next one.”
But (House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike) Turner said some of the GOP proposals seemed designed to fit Ramsey’s plans if he’s elected governor. He pointed to a Senate provision to set aside $50 million to buy out state workers, money that the Democratic plan would give to community colleges.
“I think Ron’s trying to set himself up where it won’t be so hard in his first year,” Turner said. “I think that’s what he’s doing. I think we’re playing politics here.”

Flooding in the Budget
Andrea Zelinski has a report on part of the flood of efforts by legislators to provide tax breaks to people impacted by floods in Middle and West Tennessee. It begins thusly:
Lawmakers are trying to work in sales tax relief to victims of this month’s flood, a move some worry could be abused by people trying to “game the system.”
Roughly 50,000 people have filed claims with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to line up for federal disaster aid. The state wants to tack a little extra relief onto that — up to $2,500 in sales tax refunds
Zelinski also did an article on the Senate Finance Committee “burning the midnight oil on the Senate’s penultimate legislative day.”
Babies Will Die
From Richard Locker: Despite pleas by children’s advocates and testimony that babies will die, Republicans on the state Senate Finance Committee stripped funding for an infant-death reduction initiative that officials say is reducing Memphis and Tennessee’s high rates of infant mortality.
The committee voted 7-4, on straight party lines Thursday night to reject an effort by Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle of Memphis and others to restore the state budget funding for the governor’s Office of Children’s Care Coordination and the grants it administers across Tennessee.

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