Haslam’s GOP Budget Taps Into Some Top Democratic Priorities

Not all the Dems are thrilled, of course, but many in the minority praised Gov. Bill Haslam’s $32.7 billion spending plan, pointing to more cash for university construction projects, a 1.5 percent raise for state employees, and, in particular, more money for elementary and high school education.

“I thought he gave a great speech, I really did,” said Rep. Joe Towns, D-Memphis, who serves as the House assistant Democratic leader. “Heretofore, the Republicans weren’t really supporting K through 12.”

The man in charge of shepherding the budget proposal through the General Assembly is Finance & Administration Commissioner Mark Emkes. After a point-by-point proposal of the budget plan before the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee Tuesday, he told TNReport that the budget plan was put together with bipartisanship in mind.

“As we go through the budget process we focus on what is good for the citizens of Tennessee, what is good for our customers. And our customers are the citizens of the state of Tennessee, so let’s do what’s good for them,” Emkes said. “We don’t need to think about what’s good for Republicans or what’s good for Democrats. We always have that in mind.”

Trent Seibert can be reached at, on Twitter(@trentseibert) or at 615-669-9501.

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