Gov. Phil Bredesen’s proposed driver’s license fee hike stalled in the legislature Wednesday, and he urged Senate Republicans to end their closed-door discussions and produce their own plan to balance the recession-battered state budget.
GOP senators have balked at all of the governor’s revenue-increasing measures, and they’ve been meeting privately for three weeks to come up with new cuts to bridge a $105 million budget shortfall.
“We’ve been through a couple of deadlines at this point,” the governor said of the promised Senate Republican plan. “We need to get that together and move on.”
Bredesen said he is open to new cuts in spending.
“I’ve got lots of strong preferences but I’m not going to take things off the table or start pounding stakes into the ground,” he said. “Let’s see what other people have, and let’s see if we can’t find some common ground.
“Once the Senate Republicans put forward their ideas, it’ll be like it always is. It’s kind of like the ice on the river at some point. There’s a crack and it breaks up and it goes away and that’s what will happen with this.”
In the Senate Transportation Committee, a vote was delayed on the administration bill to increase driver’s license fees by $2. That would raise $21 million to forestall layoffs of prosecutors and public defenders.