State Budget News: 'Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez'

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Happy days are here again! Gov. Phil Bredesen is tossing out all the usual cautions about the need for belt-tightening, etc. But even the android governor can scarcely contain his glee over the $819 billion federal stimulus package that's making its way through Congress. It's "a very rich package" that will "substantially mitigate" budget cuts in Tennessee, the governor says. That's geekspeak for, let the good times roll! Specificially, it would reduce cuts from nearly 15 percent to roughly 9 percent -- or about $400 million. Here's a breakdown:
The House bill contains some $613 million for Tennessee highway construction, another $244.6 million in K-12 construction, $265.8 billion for special education and $701 million for Medicaid, according to an estimates by national legislative and governors' organizations. One category known as "fiscal stabilization," would provide $1.24 billion to Tennessee. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures' Web site, it would let the governor use 39 percent for public safety and other government services including assistance for elementary and secondary education and higher education institutions.
Trying to kill our buzz, as always, Bredesen cautioned that even if the need for state cuts is substantially reduced, we still should look to the future when federal funding will end. "We certainly don't need to be going along fat and happy and let the federal government borrow some money and carry us, then we hit a brick wall two years from now," he said.

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