No one year ‘slashing and burning’ of the state budget, says governor’s finance commissioner


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — In their only committee hearing this week, Tennessee state senators received a heavy dose of budget reality, but the governor wants to avoid cutting workers and programs.

This came as Governor Bill Lee’s top finance person asked state agencies and departments to consider cutting their budgets significantly.

“We are asking them to look hard at their budgets and come up with a plan that could derive a 12-percent savings,” state finance commissioner Butch Ely told members of the Senate finance committee.

During the nearly two-hour meeting Thursday afternoon, Ely outlined options about what the administration might propose to lawmakers for patching shortfalls in the state budget due to the COVID-19 shutdown.

“We are generally, kind of, taking the role of preparing for the worst and hoping for the best,” the commissioner told committee members.

The numbers to fill daunting and unprecedented.

Around a half-billion or more in the current budget than ends June 30th and at least a billion dollars in next year’s budget are the figures looming for lawmakers.

How those numbers are met is the main question as lawmakers gather in full next week.

Getting those things in balance is what the Lee Administration is calling a “multi-year approach.”

Ely on Thursday told the Senate committee members he envisioned the approach to take place “over a two or three year time period rather than slashing and burning the budget all in one year, cutting thousands of employees and programs.”

State lawmakers formally pickup their session Monday after a mid-March COVID-19 recess.

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