House Dems Denounce Senate GOP Budget Proposal

Press Release from House Democratic Caucus; May 12, 2010:

Leaders to Roll Out Alternative to Republican Budget

NASHVILLE (May 12) – House Democrats on Wednesday announced a push to stand up for teachers, farmers, working families, and other Tennesseans hurt by cuts proposed by the Republican-controlled Senate.

On Monday, the Republican majority in the Senate offered a budget amendment putting over $140 million in funding on the chopping block. These include $34 million in cuts to teacher pay, $6 million in cuts to agriculture investments in farmers, $100 million in cuts to state employees, and $3.5 million in cuts to public safety.

“The budget proposal offered by Senate Republicans is unacceptable and shows a fundamental lack of compassion for Tennesseans,” said House Democratic Leader Gary Odom (D-Nashville). “What Tennesseans need is a budget that will lead them to recovery, not ruin.”

Additional program cuts offered in the Senate Republican budget proposal include Tennessee’s Meth Grant Program, Internet Crime Grant Program, and Children’s Services.

“The Senate began work on this proposal this afternoon. We are going to counter that when they decide to send it to us,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner (D-Old Hickory). “We have asked for weeks for the majority party plan. It is here and we disagree.”

House leadership Wednesday morning approved a preliminary counter budget to the Republican-backed proposal.

“We have already begun work on an alternative budget proposal,” said House Finance Chairman Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley). “We intend to fix as many of the Senate Republican cuts as we can because they hurt our teachers, farmers, state employees, and Tennessee families.”

Democrats now wait on the Senate to approve their budget proposal, at which time the House will take up the measure and conclude business for the year.

“After years of fiscally conservative budgeting and belt-tightening, we are in the position of using savings to help the people of our state,” said Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh (D-Covington).

Added Speaker Pro-Tem Lois DeBerry (D-Memphis), “Our rainy day fund is for a rainy day, and here in Tennessee it’s raining.”