The Finance, Ways and Means Committee of the Tennessee House of Representatives on Monday rejected the state Senate’s version of a 2009-10 budget and substituted it with their own. The difference in their versions is about $60 million of taxpayer funds.
Working off the budget proposed originally by Gov. Phil Bredesen, House members restored funding to programs that had been cut by the governor.
Funds restored include those for the coordinated school health grants, adult education sub-grants, funding for the department of mental health for family support and services to children, the National Guard tuition program and money for state employees 401(k) program.
In addition to the restoration of cuts from Bredesen’s budget, the House committee added funding for transportation for the department of mental health and the University of Tennessee dentistry building.
In passing this budget out of committee, House members ignored a version of the Senate's budget that was passed in their committee system last week — a budget that was widely criticized in its original form because it deleted funding for a West Tennessee megasite for industrial development and funding of various solar initiatives proposed by Gov. Bredesen.
Senate Republicans backed down from those proposals but did move funding for Bredesen's pre-K program from recurring to non-recurring item in the budget and eliminated construction projects from higher education campuses. The House version does not touch those programs and leaves them at funding levels recommended by the governor.
The full House is expected to vote on the budget sometime Tuesday.
How the State Senate will react to House budget will determine when the Legislature adjourns for the year. If they approve the House version, session will adjourn this week. If the Senate decides to force a "conference committee" and bring members of the House in to negotiate the differences, adjournment would likely be pushed back into July.