I keep hearing about state programs being cut again this year. What gives?
Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, asked state agencies last fall to tell him what they would cut if they had to reduce spending by 5 percent. His Democratic predecessor, Gov. Phil Bredesen, made a similar request during the recession. Haslam has continued the practice since he took office.
But I thought the economy was doing better. Why is this necessary?
Haslam mainly wants to force department heads to identify potential fat in their budgets. But state government is bringing in less in taxes than budgeters thought it would — largely because business taxes haven't hit targets.
So does that mean the cuts will happen or not?
Some will and some won't. The governor has to go through the department recommendations and put together a budget for the entire state. After that, he and state lawmakers will work out the specifics.
The budget usually is one of the last measures passed before the legislature adjourns for the summer. The state constitution requires the budget to be balanced.
Just how big is the state budget?
The simple answer is about $33 billion — give or take a billion dollars or two. But what's that among friends?
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