Haslam proposes cutting 1,000 positions, paying for long-deferred education projects

Monday, January 30, 2012 at 7:06pm

Gov. Bill Haslam on Monday released his proposed state budget for the coming financial year, ending more than a thousand jobs across the government but also cutting taxes modestly and paying for major construction projects on college campuses.

Tennessee’s citizens are projected to send $9.4 billion to the government to pay for state services, returning the treasury to its pre-recession level for the first time in six years. The budget, including federal funds, comes to $31 billion with $365 million more state revenue than the current operating year.

In his State of the State speech that accompanied his spending blueprint, Haslam asked Tennesseans to “believe in better” when it comes to the economy and their children’s education.

“I promise to be relentless when it comes to providing the very best service to our taxpayers for the very lowest price,” Haslam told a joint assembly of the state House and Senate. “And on issue or policy, our administration will always work to get to the right answer, not just our own answer. Working together, we are going to achieve better for Tennessee.”

State officials said ending 1,166 positions in the government — roughly half of which currently are filled — is necessary to create new efficiencies. That cuts the workforce by 2.6 percent. Once these latest layoffs occur, the state will employ 43,000 people — 7,000 fewer than when the recession hit in 2008.

For the workforce that remains, Haslam set aside $123 million to give 2.5 percent across-the-board pay raises.

“Our role in state government is to provide services that Tennesseans aren’t able to get on their own — we build roads, offer higher education options, house prisoners, help families adopt children, care for the mentally ill, patrol highways, serve veterans and perform hundreds of other services,” the governor said. “My job as governor is to make sure we are providing those services in a customer-focused and effective way.”

Haslam proposed spending nearly $264 million to pay for long-deferred higher education construction projects, including a new science building at Middle Tennessee State University and a science lab at the University of Tennessee.

He would add $50 million to the state’s so-called Rainy Day fund for emergencies. That would bring the fund to $356 million.

Included in the budget is money to pay for the governor’s previously announced 2012 legislative agenda. He wants to cut the state grocery and inheritance taxes as well as enact an array of anti-crime laws cracking down on domestic violence, street gangs and meth cookers.

Haslam would raise the inheritance tax exemption from $1 million to $1.25 million. He called it the first step toward ending the tax on estates worth up to $5 million, the level of the federal exemption. The first year will cost the state treasury $14 million. Annually, only about 200 estates pay this tax.

The governor proposed decreasing the state sales tax on food from 5.5 percent to 5.3 percent this year, and he said he wants to drop it to 5 percent in the next three years. That would cost the state treasury $18 million in the coming year.

21 Comments on this post:

By: pswindle on 1/30/12 at 11:26

He wants to protect millionaires and cut over a thousand low paying jobs of people that really need to work. What a joke! That little bit saving on food taxes is also a joke. But, it could really hurt the state. What bush did he crawl out from under?

By: Loner on 1/31/12 at 6:35

"Haslam proposed spending nearly $264 million to pay for long-deferred higher education construction projects, including a new science building at Middle Tennessee State University and a science lab at the University of Tennessee."

Uh...will the new "science" buildings be devoted to "Creation Science"? Most of the legislature still rejects the idea of evolution; the new buildings must be for pseudo-science, right?

The total budget is at $31 billion, with less than 10 billion coming from the citizens of TN...that means that TN is a federal welfare state...receiving over 21 billion in federal aid, to keep the place afloat.

This is an example of rugged individualism, limited government and states rights? Without the allowance from Uncle Sam, Tennessee would resemble a third world nation....and still many Tennesseans talk about secession.....stupid crackers.

By: govskeptic on 1/31/12 at 7:29

Loner: As an upstate New Yorker, living in a rented basement, who are you to
call anyone in this state a "stupid cracker"?

By: yogiman on 1/31/12 at 7:34

This whole issue raises a question: Why does a multimillionaire take the pay they have scheduled for themselves to "honorably" serve their nation... or state?

I believe the passing of the 17th Amendment put the states under control of the federal "guvmunt" with the current tax system, i.e., making the states welfare states.

The nation would be a lot better if the 17th Amendment would be repealed and place the state's power back to the states. The states are only supposed to be united, not under control of the federal "guvmunt".

By: treehugger7 on 1/31/12 at 7:37

The state of the state SUCKS!

By: yogiman on 1/31/12 at 7:39

Just wondering Loner,

How much "welfare" money does Nu Yawk get? How much do they pay in to get it? How many of your multimillionaire legislators accept a dollar to serve you idiots?

John Kennedy was the only man I can recall who worked for a dollar a year in the "guvmunt".

By: jonw on 1/31/12 at 8:08

Treehugger:Why don't you go SUCK on a tree while the adults do the heavy lifting?

By: Rocket99 on 1/31/12 at 8:15

Part of Haslam's proposed budget cuts do away with some checks & bakances. What happens when there aren't checks & balances? Lawsuits that end up costing the state a lot more than if the checks & balances had been left in place.

Also, since he wants to run state government just like Pilot Oil, is he going to give severance packages to the employees who are terminated along the same lines as what the private sector does?

The Death Tax only affects around 200 estates. His family is in that group. Why do we need to cut taxes for the 1%? So it will trickle down th the 99%? Like that's going to happen.

We are loosing tax revenues every day to online sales of goods. He is wanting to further reduce revenues by saving everone an average of $20 - $30 a year by reducing the tax on food with no proposal on how to replace that lost revenue. Not a good plan. If we follow the path he's wanting us to do, people won't have to worry about state governemnt because there won't be enough money to fund it. Then who will provide the needed services?

He is also wanting to totally get rid of civil service where partisan politics will once again determine who will work for the state. The average state worker will be in fear of loosing their low paying job if they disagree with the party in power only to be replaced by some dimwit who is remotely related to someone who gave $5 to the party in power.

There ae ways to change the hiring policies in government without totally throwing out the current system. His proposed changes are not what needs to happen.

By: BigPapa on 1/31/12 at 8:18

I think Haslam needs to whip the Legislature into shape and try to keep them on track, keep them from straying off on to crazy odd ball subjects like "Dont Say Gay" and silly stuff like that.

I hope he has a whip and chair, 'cause he'll need it.

By: spooky24 on 1/31/12 at 8:45

Without details it's really hard to judge this. However I agree with giving state workers a raise-small but better than nothing.


By: joe41 on 1/31/12 at 8:56

His plan does not seem to be very well thought out.

By: Moonglow1 on 1/31/12 at 9:15

Moonglow1: Remember Haslam gave his Commissioner's raises from 15-25 percent while the rank and file are getting 2.5. Trickle down economics really mean power grab by the greedy.

Who is going to staff the new science center? Haslam must be building it for some company planning to relocate. Corporate welfare at its best.

Lousy budget aimed at killing "the state" while reaping personal benefits such as reducing "his" inheritance tax.

I am so sick of hearing from the Repub's that the private sector is more efficient than the public sector. Tell that to Romney who's venture firm purchased non performing private companies. Apparently there are many of them.

By: yucchhii on 1/31/12 at 9:26

When are you people going to WAKE UP??? HELLO? First off the VOTING system does NOT work!!! I know this for a FACT! I have known certain people within the system and I have heard it from THEM!! 2nd- ONLY CRIMINALS get to be mayors, govs, sens, and other POLITICIANS!! If they were actually TRYING to get something right, then it would have been done MANY YEARS AGO!! But you all want to believe that the president that comes in after has to clean up the mess left by the last...THAT is the joke!! NONE ARE TRYING TO CLEAN UP ANYTHING!! One politician leaves the office out the left door with a soiled shovel after digging the USA into a deep deep hole. The next one enters office with a new shovel to take up where the last one left off!! C'mon now! Face it before the policians dig us sooo deep that we CAN'T get out of it ANYMORE!!!

By: Left-of-Local on 1/31/12 at 9:27


By: jrtune on 1/31/12 at 9:31

J.R. Tune - One of the items that needs to be eliminated is the Hall tax which effects adversely many of our senior reitirees! One of the reasons that many of our seniors leave TN for FL is the latter does not have a Hall tax effecting interest income and dividends. I believe that Mr Ramsey in the State Legislature is an advocate of this and I encourage him to keep working to effect this change.

By: pswindle on 1/31/12 at 9:31

This little ole governor that we have is in way over his head. Ron and Beth are running the state., HELLO TEA PARTY. When he leave office, we will have to bring Gov. Bredesen back to save the state again.

By: buzzer on 1/31/12 at 3:04

it hasnt been easy but, it looks as if haslam is going to come very close to having a balanced budget, a near impossibility in todays enviroment. the state shd be poised to become one of the country's strongest financially. growth and jobs will follow states with low tax rates that are fiscally responsible.

By: TharonChandler on 2/1/12 at 8:53

Taxes? what taxes; fuel taxes ?

Feb first 2012;

In the United States ryt now we are enjoying political 'Debates' about our governments 'Tax Policy' (about whom should pay more/ less in taxes) in the need to balance our annual budget and to address the problem of our rising national debts crises (we owe $$ to China and Japan and our President now wants to borrow more from them, again) yet the pundits r simply 'pulling' for one side or the other (either the rich or else the poor) and are not 'explaining Why' or not going into any rightful theory about monetary and fiscal policy. I , Mr William "Tharon" Chandler; an an Economics major/ graduate (Memphis 94) had been involved in this discussion before and i will again offer the proof as to Why he Rich absolutely should pay more; because they get more out of the U.S economy; and that some of the wealthy should simply pay 'any' amount in taxes instead of not even paying anything they owe.

Everyone on the evening news; from Barak Obama to Robert Reich to Ed Shultz to Mitt Romney to Rachel Maddow to Shawn Hannity, has 'an opinion' about this looming debate, and some of them make some Good points without explaining Why that hasn't worked allready (such as Mr Eric Cantor elaborating as if 'expense costing' has not already been considered by CPA's working for the wealthy and also Ms Rachel Maddow pointing out that we have already tried 'subsidizing the wealthy' within this administration cycle) but I'm here to tell you that the wealthy should Pay More because They get the most out of The american Public economy. Furthermore it was Mr Mike Dukakas (while he was a Massachusets Governor and sitting in an army tank); was the one whom pointed it out so eloquently that the U.S. is owed Millions of dollars in Taxes that it simply never collects (from the Wealthy who owe it on the income they extracted from the people whom comprise the market).

If a man such as Romney has gotten wealthy in the Stock market then it was not a private Market where he simply did better than his wealthy freinds but it is a Public market where he made money via the economic activities and market contributions of America as a whole. Such men have made money by 'outsourcing jobs', cutting personnel and 'cheating' on their tax statements. Their accountants may Use 'Loopholes'; the current tax code has options whereby the wealthy can 'cost expense accounting' and thereby reducing the ammount they owe against the bounty they have earned in the US Public markets. But then sometimes they don't pay even that much and then the US TreASURY is afraid to go get it from them.

The wealth in this country Absolutely did not come from a few wealthy investors but from Millions of working people paying their fair share of taxes; in the type of jobs that have now been 'shipped overseas' by wealthy owners and such jobs have been earned by those that will do them better and more affordably. Some of the workers in the USA deserve to be those people again, and it must start by ending the tax-breaks to companies that have 'outsourced' our jobs . The wealthy should pay more because they have Gained more from the United states economy as it has evolved for them to use and then the US Treasury should hire someone with the guts to collect the taxes that those people already owe.

cc: Mr Ed Schultz,
cc: Ms Rachel Maddow
cc: Mr Anderson Cooper,

By: govskeptic on 2/2/12 at 7:44

Tharon you have my vote. We need to stress test our citizens to see the limit
on how Psychotic a person we can elect!

By: TharonChandler on 2/2/12 at 10:34

ya well 'construction of buildings' in Not an 'education' outlay; but 'welfare to the rich' contractors and to the wealthy students that can afford to go to college nowadays. hmpf , toinx, nananaa

By: geekinstein on 2/3/12 at 9:31

There should be no state sales tax on any product 51% produced in Tennessee..... farm products to Jack Daniels. . . Let Tennesseans work and be self sufficient. There should be no (Hall) state income tax on taxpayers earning under 200,000. Keep the death tax on estates over a million to make up the difference.