NASHVILLE — Gov. Phil Bredesen is expected to announce this morning the state will offer early retirement incentives to some state employees, a top legislative leader said.
“The governor’s making the adjustments in the budget, and that’s going to involve dealing with some position reductions, but that’s going to be done through incentives for retirement,” House Majority Leader Gary Odom, D-Nashville, said.
Meanwhile, Gov. Bredesen is pulling the plug on two bills as a result of worsening revenue conditions that are forcing him to cut his proposed 2009 budget by as much as $468 million to $585 million.
On Tuesday, the administration abandoned efforts to pass a massive water resource planning bill. The bill would have required local utility districts to submit plans to the state on future growth as well as drought.
“They said they don’t even have the money if somebody submits a plan to do it, to review it,” said Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, the bill’s Senate sponsor. “I know that anything that involves new dollars is being scrutinized beyond what it would usually get.”
Gov. Bredesen also is withdrawing a bill that would let law enforcement to revoke a suspected DUI offender’s driver’s license before their court hearing. The bill would add 75 new state positions.
In a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, a bill sponsor, the governor said Tuesday that “due to the serious budget constraints we are facing, unfortunately it is not possible to add dozens of new positions to administer this measure at the same time we are planning work force reductions across government.”
The governor said he is “disheartened” he cannot pay for the proposal.
“Let me assure you. I remain committed to exercising every option available for taking drunk drivers off the road,” he added.
With regard to employee layoffs, Majority Leader Odom said some younger employees may be interested in going back to school and “there are some things that can be done there to assist that.”
Gov. Bredesen has said he will have to lay off an unspecified number of employees.
The governor has scheduled a news conference at 11 a.m. (CDT) to discuss budget-related issues, Bredesen spokeswoman Lydia Lenker said.
For complete details, see tomorrow’s Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...