The Tennessee General Assembly has officially been in session since Jan. 8, but lawmakers will just begin taking up regular day-to-day legislative business this week.
On Monday evening, Gov. Bill Haslam will deliver his state of the state address to the Tennessee Legislature and outline his budget plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
This will be Haslam’s third budget cycle since winning the November 2010 gubernatorial election.
The budget approved last year by the GOP-run Legislature topped out at about $31.5, down slightly from the roughly $32.1 billion approved in the spring of 2011. The state spent $31.1 billion the year before.
After signing last year’s budget — to which the Legislature had added $400 million more than what the governor originally requested — Haslam proclaimed Tennessee a fiscal success story. Elimination of the state’s gift tax, phasing out the tax on wealthy inheritances and slightly trimming the tax on food were all noteworthy accomplishments in 2012, Haslam said.
While Tennessee has under Republican dominion become a reliable punchline to liberal entertainers and a target of scorn by national left-leaning media outlets, GOP lawmakers boast that the Volunteer State’s is among the most business friendly and fiscally well-operated government in the country. And when compared to the debt-deluged, impasse-prone federal government, Tennessee is an exemplar of productive, frugal efficiency, they say.
“In government, Tennesseans expect us to talk about results. It is our responsibility to identify a problem, take politics out of the equation and then find a solution,” Haslam said in his 2012 state of the state address. “I think people are so frustrated with Washington today because when problems are identified, politics are always put into the equation, and there never seems to be any real effort to find a solution.
“Even when we disagree, in Tennessee, we come together to move forward. A quick check of some of our sister states — and Washington — shows that not everyone is blessed with this common sense. Here we do things differently.”
The governor is scheduled to deliver his speech at 6 p.m.