Hard budget decisions still to come, Haslam says

NASHVILLE - Gov. Bill Haslam, who presents his first budget to the General Assembly later today, said he "made a lot of hard decisions" in the 2011-2012

"But there are still more to come," the Republican warned in comments made to reporters. "State government is still not nearly out of the woods yet. And there's still work to be done" in future years.

Haslam's comments came earlier today in advance of his first State of the State address at 7 p.m. CDT today. Most details of his proposed budget have been embargoed until his speech.

Arkansas-Tennessee Live Blog

In remarks approved for earlier release, however, the governor said that "while this is a very difficult budget I want to make clear that Tennessee relatively is in very good shape."

"We have a very low tax burden. We have the second lowest debt burden of any state," he said. "When I talk to other governors around the country, I like the position we're in. That being said, we still have a $1 billion-plus hole to climb out of."

He said a number of state functions had been propped up by $1.1 billion in federal stimulus funds and $300 million in state reserves. Those funds are going away.

Most of those have already been cut on paper, but the governor is expected to identify additional cuts required this evening.

For complete details, see tomorrow's Times Free Press.