Phil's PrioritiesTennessee Governor Phil Bredesen is forecasting dire straits, and is telling the press that the State is $800 million in the hole. To respond to this so-called budget shortfall, the Governor has declared that massive cuts are in order for some State departments:
Bredesen also told reporters Monday that it won't be possible for Tennessee to bridge what could end up an $800 million budget gap without reducing the number of employees on the payroll.
The governor says the state will accomplish some savings through a hiring freeze because an average of about 10 percent of workers leave state employment every year. But he says he's not willing to take the possibility of mandatory layoffs off the table.
While attempts to cut-yes cut-unnecessary State expenditures should be welcomed by the General Assembly, one has to believe that talk from the Administration on the nature of the budget is overblown. Governor Bredesen is speaking as though the State is $800 million in the red, but that is not the case at all. Instead, the Governor's Department of Revenue is $800 million dollars short of their anticipated revenue collections for this year. That does not mean that the State is in danger of running a massive deficit by June, but it does mean that the Administration is going to have to do with what it already has in terms of revenue.
There is money coming in, but the amount is nowhere near what the Honorable Phil Governor anticipated. As a result, the Governor is speaking of slashing State jobs in more-than-draconian fashion. The issue isn't that wasteful or unneeded expenses are being done away with, it is rather a question of timing and priorities. Little Johnny won't get much Christmas because the Honorable Phil Governor says we must sacrifice so that he and his department heads can spend more of our money, so Mama or Daddy loses their job. Meanwhile, the Honorable Phil's $13 million party bunker contines to be constructed as planned, as if that is a more important priority than funding State departments.