NASHVILLE, TENN. - With significantly less drama, the Senate on Monday approved the proposed $37 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
The chamber voted 28-2 in favor of the budget, sending it to Gov. Bill Haslam, just over three months after its initial introduction. Sens. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, and Lee Harris, D-Memphis, accounted for the two dissenting votes.
Prior to voting on the budget, Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, provided a summary of the legislation, arguing that the state was making history with its passage.
Among the key aspects to receive funding as part of the millions of dollars associated with the various tax cuts included in the IMPROVE Act - the governor's signature legislation for the year - as well as more than $400 million to higher education for capital projects and $132 million to bolster the state's reserve fund.
The budget also provides pay raises to teachers, district attorneys, law enforcement officials and state employees.
Although the governor introduced the budget, the legislature made some changes, ranging from using $8 million to pay for an airplane for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, in addition providing more money to zoos and food banks.
The Senate’s approval of the budget was significantly less combative than what occurred last week when the lower chamber prepared to vote on the annual legislation.
Despite taking it up on Thursday, the House was forced to recess for the day after a coalition of Democrats and frustrated Republicans joined forces to make last minute changes to the budget. When the chamber reconvened the next day, they undid much of their work, before approving the budget with an 83-2 vote.