Haslam adds spending on roads, TennCare, schools to budget

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Republican Gov. Bill Haslam is proposing new spending on Tennessee roads, TennCare and schools.

Excerpts of the annual budget amendment released Monday reflect the governor’s priorities for spending savings and revenues exceeding original projections for the budget year beginning July 1.

The plan would direct $12 million to the state’s highway fund on top of the $130 million Haslam had proposed earlier this year. About $42 million of that total would be spent on the transportation needs of cities and counties.

The proposal would also spend $18 million to restore a 1 percent rate cut for TennCare providers, and $9 million to pay for growth in school enrollment.

Haslam is also proposing $147,000 to be spent on a new position within the state’s Office of Open Records Counsel.

Note: The governor’s press release on the budget amendment is below:

News release from the governor’s office
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today unveiled additions to the FY 2016-2017 budget that will be considered by the 109th General Assembly in the coming weeks.

The appropriations amendment to HB2629/SB2653 follows closely the governor’s original budget proposal presented to the legislature on February 1, and it recognizes $60 million in savings from state departments that was returned to the General Fund.

“Earlier this year we presented a budget proposal that took advantage of the unique opportunity this state has because of a strengthening economy combined with the hard work and discipline of our departments and the conservative fiscal strategy employed by the General Assembly, our constitutional officers and this administration,” Haslam said. “This amendment builds on our priorities by making thoughtful and strategic investments in services across state government.”

In the amendment, the governor proposes adding $12 million to the $130 million originally presented to repay the state’s Highway Fund. If the budget is approved as amended, $42 million of the total $142 million would go toward local governments’ transportation needs as part of the state aid program.

Other notable funding priorities in the governor’s budget amendment include:

•$18.2 million to restore a 1 percent provider rate reduction in TennCare;
•$9 million to fund additional K-12 student enrollment growth during the current year;
•$2.43 million for a 1 percent provider rate increase with the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD);
•$2.07 million in additional funding for non-formula units in public higher education;
•$1.3 million to increase the work being done with adverse childhood experiences (ACE);
•$1.04 million to leverage Tennessee State University’s land grant status;
•$1 million to support growth in the state’s captive insurance program; and
•$147,400 for an additional position in the state’s Office of Open Records Counsel.

The appropriations amendment is customarily introduced in the final weeks of the legislative session each year for consideration and approval by the General Assembly. The budget amendment is scheduled to be filed Thursday, April 7. Finance and Administration Commissioner Larry Martin begins presentations on the amendment to finance committees of the state Senate and House of Representatives Tuesday, March 29.