Lawmakers have a wish list up to $500 million in projects and programs long — a pipe dream they’ll have to whittle down to about $5 million, says Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris.
The governor included $5 million in legislative expenditures in his budget, and now lawmakers are clamoring for a piece of that available money. The proposals include projects specific to lawmakers’ districts and attempts to fund favored bills or existing state programs.
Norris said it’s too soon to say what lawmakers will decide to spend that available money on, but said they so far don’t see making many changes to the governor’s proposed budget and accompanied amendment.
“Given that we only have about 1 percent of what’s requested available, all of them will not make it,” said Norris, R-Collierville. “Though worthy, there’s not enough taxpayer money available to fund everything that people would like to see us fund.”
Senate lawmakers began combing through the requests this week in a budget subcommittee and expect to decide next week which of those proposals will actually be funded.
“People think there’s more money,” said House Finance Committee Chairman Charles Sargent, R-Franklin, who said his office has 350 funding requests, an increase from last year’s 150 requests.
Before lawmakers can go home for the year, they need to approve a budget. Gov. Bill Haslam proposed a $31.1 billion spending plan, which the Republican-driven Legislature is so far keen on.