Haslam budget booster amendment: Surplus money for new state library, roads

With his tax package now approved by the legislature, Gov. Bill Haslam Tuesday proposed some changes to the 2017-18 state budget plan he presented back in February.

Maybe the most notable revisions are the addition of $55 million in supplemental one-time funding (from the current budget surplus) on road projects — beyond what is envisioned in his tax bill, which includes higher gas and diesel fuel taxes — and $40 million towards the $98 million needed to build a new state Library and Archives building, advocated for years by Secretary of State Tre Hargett.

Both of those proposals are virtually guaranteed approval of the legislature as lawmakers get into serious work on the budget next week. The publicly-released documents don’t say which road projects get the new advance funding (but one could speculate that projects in the districts of legislators who voted no on his proposl might not be a high priority). It also appears that the governor is leaving about $125 million in surplus money for legislators to distribute as they, collectively, decide how to spend.

News release from the governor’s office:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced his amendment to the Fiscal Year 2017-2018 budget proposal that will be considered by the 110th General Assembly in the coming weeks.

The appropriations amendment to HB511/SB483 tracks closely to the governor’s original budget proposal presented to the legislature January 30, which for the second year in a row does not take on any new debt and makes significant investments in teachers, K-12 schools, higher education, state employees, the state’s Rainy Day Fund and the tax cuts included in the IMPROVE Act.

“This amendment builds on our priorities by making strategic and thoughtful investments across state government,” Haslam said. “Because of the conservative fiscal responsibility we have shown, we can be the state with the lowest taxes and the lowest debt while providing Tennesseans not only with access to opportunity but the tools to be successful, like a safe and reliable transportation network that supports long-term growth.”

Notable investments in the FY 17-18 budget amendment include—

 In recurring dollars:

  • $8 million to increase salaries paid to Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities service providers who care for the state’s most vulnerable; and
  • $2 million for prevention, education, treatment and recovery services with the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

      And in one-time funds:

  • $55 million for transportation projects as the IMPROVE Act is phased in;
  • $40 million for a new State Library and Archives building to collect and preserve Tennessee records of historical, documentary and reference value; and
  • $10.65 million for disaster relief in Gatlinburg and Sevier County after the devastating wildfires in November 2016.

The appropriations amendment is customarily introduced in the final weeks of the legislative session each year for consideration and approval by the General Assembly. Finance and Administration Commissioner Larry Martin begins presentations on the amendment to House and Senate Finance committees today, April 25.

Note: The power point presentation to legislators is available by clicking on this link: amendment-powerpoint-1 . The  text summary of funds involved in the budget update is available by clicking on this link: budgetamendment

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