published Thursday, April 10th, 2014

State's $32.4 billion budget goes to Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam

NASHVILLE — The state's $32.4 billion budget is on its way to Republican Gov. Bill Haslam after the Senate took final action on the governor's recommended spending plan.

Senate majority Republican senators approved the bill on a 28-3 vote, earlier defeating minority Democrats' efforts to change the House-approved version to appropriate $2 million to deal with the state's backlog on processing rape kits.

Earlier, in the GOP-controlled House, Democrats unsuccessfully tried to restore planned teacher and employee pay raises scrapped by revenue shortfalls.

Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, charged Republicans are "going to balance [the budget] on the workers of this state."

He offered an amendment that would have provided funding to restore Haslam's originally proposed salary boosts that would go into effect if revenues increase.

Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, called Fitzhugh's plan a "gimmick" and said it would confuse state workers, teachers and higher education employees.

Representatives tabled Fitzhugh's amendment on a 68-28 vote.

Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, was widely expected to present his own plan to restore employee increases. But after speaking at length on his amendment, Hill, who spoke with administration officials earlier in the day, withdrew his amendment.

about Andy Sher...

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, ...

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