Hasalm Signs Budget Bill; Says He’s OK With Funding Virginia Museum

Gov. Bill Haslam tells Andrea Zelinski that he signed the state’s $31.5 billion spending plan Tuesday, putting into action a state budget that is $627 million less than this year’s.
In an interview with TNReport Tuesday afternoon, Haslam said he’s proud of the budget plan, which spends about $400 million more than he originally pitched to lawmakers and the public back in January.
“The ultimate budget had a lot of the things that we added back in when the revenue numbers improved,” Haslam said. The state spending plan runs from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013.
“I am somebody who believes in smaller government. I also think though, there’s critical services that we provide,” he said. “While we want to be really tough on how we spend taxpayers dollars, we also want to make certain we’re taking care of people we’re supposed to.”
…The governor’s budget includes spending on projects and programs lawmakers at one point flagged as pork barrel spending, including a $500,000 for the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol, Va., across the street from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s Republican district Bristol in Tennessee.
“It’s kind of an easy target to say, oh that’s in Virginia. Why are we funding it when it’s yards from Tennessee?” he said. “It’s not like we funded something that’s in northwest Virginia.”
When asked if he was “comfortable” funding the museum, he said “I think I am… it’s a little different situation because of the way the city of Bristol is laid out.”

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