After signing into law two bills aimed at reforming Tennessee’s education system, Gov. Phil Bredesen told reporters his proposed budget will include include layoffs and other cuts that the general public is sure to notice.
He said he’s open to members of the General Assembly altering or coming up with ideas on their own “as long as they hew to the general notion of…what’s going on in the world out there, and actually make some cuts and not leave the future governor with a huge problem.”
Bredesen’s layoffs will come in two forms, he said; permanent cuts from closing down facilities or programs and another set that he said will be “painful right now,” but may only be temporary.
The governor said he refuses to shed any more light on the subject until his State of the State address Monday, Feb. 1, at 6 p.m. The annual speech, given in the House chambers, will outline his budget proposal for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.
Lawmakers then have until July 1 to review, alter and approve a state budget.
The governor also weighed in on the Obama administrations’ national health care plan, which is now on-hold in Washington.
Bredesen has been an outspoken critic of the health care reform, at one point calling it “the mother of all unfunded mandates,” although he never joined with critics who said the state should fight the bill.
“We clearly need to do some things in the way of health reform, and there are lots of different opinions on what those ought to be, and mine are probably different than someone else’s about what that is,” said Bredesen.
“As someone who is I guess in the world of being a practicing politician, I really do think you’ve got to respond to what’s on the public’s mind at a certain level, and I think it had gotten a little off track with the public being very, very concerned with the economy and jobs and the prospect of losing jobs, and Congress was off designing health reform to take effect in the latter part of the next decade.”
The election of Scott Brown last week to Teddy Kennedy’s Massachusetts U.S. Senate seat “kind of brings everybody back and puts their feet on the ground with what people are really concerned about,” he said.
Bredsen also shot down rumors he was thinking about switching parties. The Democrat, serving his last year as governor, said he was surprised to hear speculation that he would switch parties and become a Republican, adding that the rumor began on a Sunday talk show.
Andrea Zelinski can be reached at 615-489-7131 or firstname.lastname@example.org.