Tag Archives: budget

Governor hails passage of administration bills

Here is Gov. Bill Haslam’s post-session news release, basically praising legislators for approving bills in his administrative package:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today thanked members of the 109th General Assembly for their work this session and partnership in passing a balanced budget and legislation to continue the state’s focus on education.

“For Tennesseans who don’t follow news out of the State Capitol every day, I think you can take away two main things from this session: education and fiscal strength. We’re making the largest investment in K-12 without a tax increase in Tennessee’s history and reorganizing our higher ed structure in Tennessee in the best way to increase student success and the number of Tennesseans with a degree or certificate,” Haslam said.

“As I spend time with other governors I’m reminded how fortunate we are as a state to be passing a balanced budget this early in the year, to be taking on no new debt, to have no transportation debt, to be in a position to fund priorities and add to our savings account to prepare for uncertain times down the road,” he added.
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March revenue adds $133M to state budget surplus

News release from the Department of Finance and Administration
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee tax revenues exceeded budgeted estimates in March. Department of Finance and Administration Commissioner Larry Martin today announced that overall March revenues were $1.1 billion, which is $133.0 million more than the state budgeted. March revenues reflect business activity that occurred in February.

“The sales tax growth rate for March was the highest we’ve seen this year, due in part to negative growth in March of last year, and also having one additional day of business activity in the leap year,” Martin said. “Franchise and Excise taxes recorded strong growth for the month and were also significantly higher than the budgeted estimate. All other taxes, taken as a group, exceeded the March estimate as well.

“We continue to be pleased with the overall growth in total taxes this fiscal year, but we also have concerns about slowing global growth and volatile financial markets.”
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Legislature approves state budget, cut in Hall income tax

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — State lawmakers on Thursday approved a nearly $35 billion annual spending plan for the budget year beginning July 1, sending the measure to Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s desk.

While hot button topics like social issues and guns tend to draw much attention during the legislative session, passing a balanced budget is the chief responsibility for members of the General Assembly.

The Senate voted 32-1 in favor of the budget, while the House approved it by an 87-7 margin.

Lawmakers had spent much of the week hammering out agreements over smaller budget items, while leaving intact most of the spending proposal Haslam proposed at the start of the session.

One last-minute measure approved by lawmakers is a 17 percent reduction in the state’s Hall tax on income on stocks and bonds. The change is projected to cause a loss of $28 million in state revenues, plus another $15 million from the communities where the tax is collected.
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$35B state budget ready for floor votes

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee lawmakers are planning to vote Thursday on the state’s nearly $35 billion spending plan for the budget year beginning July 1.

While hot button topics like social issues and guns tend to draw much attention during the legislative session, passing a balanced budget is the chief responsibility for members of the General Assembly.

Lawmakers have spent much of this week hammering out agreements over smaller budget items, while leaving intact most of the spending plan Republican Gov. Bill Haslam proposed at the start of the session.

Among the final issues to be worked out is 1 percentage point reduction in the Hall tax on income on stocks and bonds.

The Senate is expected to vote on the budget on Thursday morning, followed by the House in the afternoon.

Corker on developing GOP budget: ‘It’s a hoax’

Tennessee’s Sen. Bob Corker is quoted in a Politico report on how congressional Republicans are backing away from plans to push their own federal budget plan this year.

The reality lays bare a few critical dynamics. Republicans have undermined one of their core arguments for governing. On key fiscal matters, they have not been able to normalize legislating and hopes for regular order have been dashed. And that Congress can completely forgo a budget without consequence shows that the non-binding process means little, and proves to be just an annoyance for the party in power.

It’s all enough to make some Republicans want to abandon the broken process altogether.

“It’s a hoax. The assumptions that are made are totally unrealistic, there’s no policies behind them to follow up. So I’m in favor of is a total redo of the entire budget process, because it’s such a joke as it is right now,” fumed Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee. “It is meaningless relative to our fiscal discipline.”

In 2012, as Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell eyed the majority leader job, he committed to doing a budget “every year” when he got the majority. In 2014 he reiterated plans to pass a budget, which the GOP did last year in a late-night series of votes. All along House Republicans — led by now Speaker Paul Ryan — had been passing their own budgets, often at the risk of being attacked by Democrats.

Haslam’s $30M secret project draws criticism

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A state senator on Tuesday questioned fellow Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposal to earmark $30 million for an undisclosed economic development project in Tennessee.

Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro cited state money spent on problematic economic development deals, including a shuttered polysilicon plant in Clarksville, a West Tennessee solar farm that still isn’t operational, and a facility to study converting switchgrass to fuel that has been moved to Iowa.

“We continue year after year, and even going back to the prior administration, laying out large chunks of money for what we think might occur,” Ketron said. “And they don’t seem to materialize.”

State Finance Commissioner Larry Martin declined to elaborate on the development prospect other than to describe it as an “exciting project” during a Senate Finance Committee meeting.

Ketron said he was uncomfortable voting for the new project on the basis of state officials saying, “Trust me, it’s going to be good.”
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Haslam earmarks $12.5M to subsidize TV shows

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam is proposing to spend $8 million to keep the ABC television show “Nashville” in the Tennessee capital.

The Republican governor’s spending plan also includes $4.5 million to subsidize the CMT network’s “Million Dollar Quartet” miniseries in Memphis.

CMT is adapting the Tony Award-winning musical on the recording sessions featuring Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis into an eight-episode drama. The series will focus on the musicians’ rapid rise to fame during a time of political change and social unrest.

The music-oriented drama “Nashville” has been set in Music City since 2012, and officials credit the show for drawing tourists from around the country and world.

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: Continue reading

Fish hatchery pushed as use for surplus revenue

Rep. John Holsclaw, R-Elizabethton, says he’s hopeful part of the state’s surplus revenue will go toward building a state fish hatchery in Carter County, reports the Johnson City Press, noting the project “has been a political football bouncing around for several years.”

The lawmaker said the time to act on getting fish hatchery approved was now, pointing to a state budget surplus he said could be used on several projects.

He said one of the difficulties in getting legislative support for the hatchery has been its price tag. The cost of the state-of-the art facility has risen from $18 million to $24 million, thanks to inflation.

Holsclaw said that price tag has put a few legislators off, but noted the facility was originally proposed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to be more than a means of keeping some of the most popular streams in the state stocked. It was also intended to be a state-of-the-art facility that would also be a tourist attraction and an education center for students.

The article notes TWRA purchased 19 acres for the hatchery from the City of Elizabethton for $198,000 in 2009.

But the timing was terrible.

The state representative for the district, Kent Williams, had just incurred the wrath of Republicans who had been planning to take over the speakership of the House of the Representatives for the first time since the 1970s. They counted 50 votes to 49 for the Democrats, giving them the majority.

Those plans were dashed when Williams joined with Democrats to elect himself speaker.

In the aftermath, the Republican leadership was not eager to approve a fish hatchery in Williams’ district that would cost as much as $18 million.

Political pundits in Nashville wrote that “fish was the new pork.

…As bad as the timing was in 2009, Holsclaw says the timing was probably the best it could ever be this year. He said there is a budget surplus — and a governor who has expressed support for the project.

“I have been working hard on this,” Holsclaw said.

February revenue over-collection: Only $20M

News release from Department of Finance and Administration
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee tax revenues exceeded the state’s budgeted estimates for the month of February. Department of Finance and Administration Commissioner Larry Martin today announced that overall February revenues were $818.2 million, which is $20.0 million more than the state budgeted.

“February’s sales tax growth rate was the lowest we’ve seen in the past year, but receipts still managed to come in a little over the budgeted estimate,” Martin said. “Franchise and Excise taxes recorded negative growth for the month, but were marginally higher than the budgeted estimate for the month.

“Typically, more than half of our annual corporate revenues are realized in the months of April through June, so we’ll be watching corporate taxes closely through the remainder of the fiscal year.”
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