With only days left to act on the budget, Gov. Phil Bredesen said he is thumbing through the document today and will decide whether to sign the Legislature’s full proposal or use his veto pen to change the parts he doesn’t like.
Bredesen is bound by the Tennessee Constitution to act on the budget within 10 days of it arriving at his office, excluding Sundays.
The budget arrived June 14, one day after Bredesen flew to Germany and Spain on an economic development trip to meet with Volkswagen and potential suppliers who may be interested in developing manufacturing or distribution centers in Tennessee, said his spokesman. Bredesen returned on June 19.
The Tennessee Constitution gives Bredesen the ability to reduce or strike money set aside in the budget, but he cannot increase spending.
The budget package, like any other bill, will become law if the governor misses the June 25 deadline.
If Bredesen decides to change details in the budget, the Legislature can reconvene in a special session to fight his changes and reject the veto. However, lawmakers see that as very unlikely.
The Democratic governor said he is largely content with the budget, but added that some issues are giving him pause.
“I think I owe the taxpayers more than just spending their money in a place where it’s not really, not really justified,” Bredesen told reporters Monday.
He said he is taking a harder look at the Greene Valley Developmental Center in Greenville, a facility he says is overstaffed. Bredesen originally sought to cut state spending at the facility but the Legislature added that money back into the budget.
Lawmakers also gave the Whiteville Correctional Facility in Hardeman County an extra six months to operate before shutting down the prison. Bredesen wanted to close the facility down at the end of the year but the Legislature gave it until July 1, 2011.
Bredesen said the Legislature’s budget also took more money out of reserves than he planned.
The governor said he was still deciding whether he disagreed with those and other budget details enough to veto them.
Lawmakers adjourned June 10 without plans to return to the state capitol until 2011 when the new General Assembly is sworn in. Before leaving, legislators OK’d a $29.9 billion budget package — a plan that cut out tax increases Bredesen added into his original proposal.
This budget will be Bredesen’s last before he maxes out his two terms in office and vacates his post in January.
TNReport originally quoted the governor’s office as saying Gov. Bredesen’s deadline to sign the budget was June 23. The date is actually June 25.