Governor Says TennCare Will Eat State’s Revenue Growth in Next Budget

Gov. Bill Haslam says he expects to have about $369 million in new revenues for his proposed 2013-14 budget, but expected cost increases in TennCare will swallow most of the money, reports the Chattanooga TFP
That will put pressure on him and lawmakers to look at cuts elsewhere to pay for increases in key areas ranging from education to prisons, the Republican governor warned last week.
Of the expected new revenue, $350 million — or 95 percent — is going to TennCare — the Republican said.
“You can’t do anything [else]. I mean, you can’t do anything in higher education. You can’t give anybody a raise. … It’s literally sucking up all the money in state government, and we have to have a different approach to health care.”
…House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, a former House Finance Committee chairman, is skeptical of the governor’s estimates.
“To say we have $369 million in new revenues before the State Funding Board meets, that’s kind of hard to figure,” Fitzhugh said.
The funding board, which sets ranges for revenue growth estimates, will meet this week. Haslam spokesman David Smith said $369 million is the funding board’s preliminary estimate.
Fitzhugh said Republican officials earlier this year refused to acknowledge much-larger-than-anticipated revenue increases for the 2012 fiscal year that ended June 30.
And so far this year, revenues were already $72.9 million higher than projected in the $31.5 billion state budget.
“I think it’s a bit premature to say how much we got there and that 95 percent of it is going to be consumed by TennCare,” Fitzhugh said.

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