NASHVILLE — A spokesman for Lt. Gov. Randy McNally says the Republican Senate speaker supports a House budget compromise passed Friday to end a bipartisan revolt that plunged the lower chamber into chaos a day earlier.
"Lt. Governor McNally was pleased to see a successful resolution to the budget process in the House," spokesman Adam Kleinheider said. "He looks forward to passing the budget as amended by the House on Monday."
The GOP-dominated House early Friday resolved differences and approved the state's $37.1 billion spending plan for fiscal 2017-18 on a 83-2 vote.
By agreement, representatives first took up a "stripper" amendment that removed all previous amendments to the bill, including $500 million or so in spending added Thursday by hard-right Republicans and minority Democrats.facebookrelatedarticlethumb
They then added a provision from Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, one of the revolt's leaders.
It shifts $55 million that Republican Gov. Bill Haslam had sought to inject into state transportation funding over to county governments under the existing formula for state street aid.
The move, however, ignores most Tennessee cities, including Chattanooga, East Ridge, Signal Mountain, Red Bank and Collegedale. Metro Nashville will get money, as will two other counties with metro governments. So will Memphis, which participates in a countywide planning organization.
Representatives passed the stripper amendment and then the budget amid widespread self-acclaim and praise for one another.
It was quite a difference from Thursday, when a conservative faction united with Democrats to, in the words of one lawmaker, "hijack" the state budget. Republicans were furious with each other.
Amid Friday's smiles and pleasantries, Finance Subcommittee Chairman Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, who a day earlier had been at loggerheads with Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, dryly noted, "I just want to add to this joyous day with all these positive comments in the room."
McCormick then dropped plans to offer an amendment shifting the $55 million in highway funds over to a K-12 education reserve account championed by Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley.
Fitzhugh and Democrats' push for the education reserve account is what helped lead to Thursday's rebellion.
The conservative faction opposed Haslam's gas tax bill and accused House GOP leaders of cutting a deal with Democrats on Fitzhugh's reserve account to win their support on the gas tax hike.
GOP leaders denied any deal. But the Republican hardliners then cut a deal themselves with Democrats who were upset the education reserve account was going nowhere.
The end result was one of the finer Tennessee budget blowups in years Thursday. Democrats and GOP hardliners passed an amendment setting aside $150 million for the account, whose interest and investment income would provide block grant funding to local schools statewide.
Democrats, meanwhile, helped Matheny put on a $300 million amendment to go toward school systems' capital projects statewide.
Both provisions are now out of the budget. So are several others added Thursday. Matheny's $55 million for counties' road programs is the only new provision as the bill goes to the Senate.
Asked what Democrats got out of all this, Fitzhugh said, "I thought we did pretty good."
Fitzhugh said he believes his bill to create the special education reserve account will pass Monday in both the House and Senate. He said the funding for it could be a future direct appropriation "or other possibilities."
Meanwhile, Majority Leader Glen Casada was relieved to see the budget blowup in the rearview mirror.
"It's gone and we're now back together as a House," he said.
Casada said while he remains "intrigued" by Fitzhugh's education account idea, "it won't be funded this year. It's something we will talk about."
When a reporter kiddingly asked if that's the "deal," Casada quickly said, "No. No. No. No deal. No deal."
Contact staff writer Andy Sher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-255-0550. Follow on Twitter @AndySher1.