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Budget Beginnings: Haslam Team Focusing in on Fiscal Matters

Governor-elect Bill Haslam told reporters Monday that he and his advisers will be conferring this week with current Department of Finance and Administration officials to “further our education on the budget process.”

Haslam expects to submit a state budget by March 1. He has maintained in the past that ratcheting down state spending will be necessary in order to fill a billion-dollar-plus budget gap the state faces beginning in 2011.

The finance department issued numbers last month indicating revenue forecasts for the state may be improving somewhat. But Republicans, who this past election ushered Democrats to the margins of power for at least the next two years, campaigned on promises of tightening the reins on spending, and they’ve indicated that pressing for government cuts will be one of their priorities when the General Assembly convenes next month.

The outgoing Knoxville mayor, who was last month elected Tennessee’s 49th governor, must yet appoint a Finance and Administration commissioner of his own. Haslam said he wants to take his time finding a candidate with the appropriate skills for the job, which requires managing, tracking and projecting state spending and tax revenues, but anticipates making the appointment in the near future.

“The sooner the better, but we want to make sure we have the right person in place,” he said.

Haslam made the comments after naming his first commissioner, Julius Johnson, to head up the Department of Agriculture at the Tennessee Farm Bureau’s annual banquet Monday night. Johnson is a 15-year Farm Bureau executive.

Haslam has now appointed four people to help make up his administrative cabinet, including Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey as his chief of staff, business transaction lawyer Herbert Slatery as his top legal counsel, and former campaign manager Mark Cate as his special assistant.

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Press Releases

Ingram To Lead Haslam’s Transition Team

Press Release from Governor-elect Bill Haslam; Nov. 9, 2010:

Tennessee Gov.-elect and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam today tapped Tom Ingram, his campaign general consultant and a veteran of Tennessee politics and government, to direct his transition into office.

At the same time, Haslam named his campaign finance director Kim Kaegi to plan the Inaugural celebration highlighted by his official swearing-in scheduled in Nashville Jan. 15, and information regarding transition activities is available on a new transition website at www.billhaslam.org.

“Tom Ingram has been an invaluable adviser to me and the campaign from the beginning, and I’m thankful for his guidance during the last two years,” Haslam said. “Building a team is perhaps the most important thing a governor does, and Tom’s experience in Tennessee politics and government makes him the obvious to choice to lead this transition.”

“Kim Kaegi was instrumental in putting the campaign in the strong position it had throughout the process, and she has extensive experience in major national and statewide political events,” Haslam said. “In leading the inaugural activities, we’ll plan a reasonable celebration that all Tennesseans can enjoy as we get set to take on Tennessee’s challenges and take advantage of its opportunities.”

Ingram said he will be assisted by Haslam Campaign Manager Mark Cate and a frequent partner in business and politics, Lewis Lavine, currently President of the Center for Nonprofit Management, an organization designed to improve the skills of nonprofit leaders in Tennessee.

Ingram said formal transition committees will not be named in this transition, but the transition will seek, receive and rely on advice from many Tennesseans representative of all regions and interests across the state.

Kaegi said inaugural activities will occur across the state, be accessible to all Tennesseans, and celebratory but sensitive to the fact that many Tennesseans continue to struggle in today’s economy.

The Haslam transition staff will operate from the same location as Haslam’s successful campaign, 1701 West End Ave in Nashville.

Beginning his political career as a newspaper reporter, Ingram has been involved in numerous statewide elections, served as Chief of Staff to Gov. and Sen. Lamar Alexander, and is founder of The Ingram Group, a business consulting firm with offices in Nashville and Washington.

Kim Kaegi is a longtime and successful Republican organizer and fundraiser in Tennessee, having previously been the finance director for Sen. Bob Corker’s hotly contested 2006 Senate campaign.

Prior to joining the campaign, Mark Cate worked for Knoxville real estate development firm Lawler-Wood as a vice president, and he previously served for 16 years in executive management for Maryville College.

Lewis Lavine was previously the chairman of The Ingram Group, and his career has included a number of government posts including executive director of the Tennessee State Planning Office and chief of staff to then-Gov. Alexander.

Mayor Bill Haslam is the two-term Republican Mayor of Knoxville, recently elected to be Tennessee’s next governor. A hardworking, conservative public servant, Haslam led Knoxville to become one of the top ten metropolitan areas for business and expansion, while reducing the city’s debt, tripling the rainy day fund, and bringing property taxes to the lowest rate in 50 years.  An executive leader with a proven record of success, he helped grow his family’s small business from 800 employees into one of Tennessee’s largest companies.