Budget agreement goes to House and Senate - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Budget agreement goes to House and Senate

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- More than 3,000 bills have been debated in this session of Tennessee's 107th General Assembly, yet legislators are still hoping to adjourn earlier than usual.  Hope to finish by the last Friday in April was dashed when budget talks broke down in the House. 

"There was a big fight on the Taft Center, which I think had some substance to it, you know the $12 million initiative to keep that up and running in Bledsoe County," explained Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter and Tennessee Insider Panelist Dave Flessner.

Governor Bill Haslam's $31-billion budget proposal directed closing the facility which houses and treats troubled youth of the more serious offenses.  A House member from Crossville filed an amendment to block the move. 

"There was a real effort to try to save that," said Flessner. "Sheriffs and others were very supportive of trying to keep that, but in the end, it didn't prevail. The money simply wasn't in the budget. So, it's gone by the wayside, too."

Wrangling continued between House and Senate versions of the budget until Sunday.  A rare conference committee was called to try to hammer out the differences which House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick said totaled around $300,000.  The committee approved a budget and will send it to both chambers for confirmation on Monday morning. 

There are other issues still out there. In the year that brought us a "saggy pants law," "guns in parking lots" and "don't say gay" bills may still have life, though it would take a 2/3 vote to bring the measures onto the floor of the House.  A Monday adjournment is the new goal.

"It's an election year," said Tennessee Insider panelist Robin Smith, "so, sitting in the out boxes of every legislator is an email ready to go, to hit send. Because, the moment they go sine die, they can begin raising money."

The House met Sunday night to vote only on a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow veterans groups to raise money through charitable lotteries.

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