NASHVILLE - Gov. Bill Haslam today announced a deal with state employees on his proposed civil service reforms and also unveiled a major budget amendment that restores some spending cuts and reflects several new spending priorities in his proposed 2012-2013 budget.
Haslam told reporters that he was "pleased to say that over the week we came to an agreement" with the Tennessee State Employees Association under which the employees group will support the overhaul with some changes.
"Obviously we have another two or three steps in the process to go," Haslam said.
Meanwhile, the budget amendment reflects some of the increased revenue the state has seen since Haslam, a Republican, rolled out his proposed $30.2 billion budget in February.
Among other things, Haslam is boosting slightly his previously proposed cut in the state's 5.5 percent state sales taxes on food.
The original proposal dropped that to 5.3 percent. Under the change, the rate will drop to 5.25 percent at an additional cost of $3.3 million in lost annual state revenue.
Another budget change boosts payments to local jails for housing state felons. Payments would increase from $35 to $37 per prisoner per day, costing the state $4 million annually.
Other provisions on the budget amendment include:
-- Restoring $1.4 million in funding for mental health peer support centers across the state.
-- Providing $3 million to restore cuts for family resource centers operated by local school systems, including Hamilton County schools.
-- Inclusion of another $3.9 million to fund Healthy Start and child health department programs previously slated for cuts.
-- Restoring $250,000 in cuts to Child Advocacy Centers across the state, including a program in Hamilton County.
-- Providing $5 million in state funds for Tennessee Career Centers to address the past practice of funding their annual operations with one-time federal dollars.
-- Restoring $375,000 in cuts to the state's Poison Control Center.
For complete details, see tomorrow's Chattanooga Times Free Press.