February 18, 2009

Governor Bredesen’s office said they still need a few more weeks to hammer out the details surrounding the stimulus package and how that will affect the state budget.

“It’s going to help us balance our budget and make things easier for us, and I’m grateful for it.”

Tennessee will receive around $3.8 billion from the federal government as part of the stimulus bill that was passed in Congress.

The new figure comes from a document passed out to the Senate Finance Committee Wednesday afternoon. The numbers are subject to change.

Governor Bredesen said his office is still weeks away from knowing the impact that money will have on the state.

“We’re in the process of pulling what we know together into a budget and we’ll be able to send it to the printer in a couple of weeks here and get it into the legislature pretty quickly,” he said.

Some lawmakers want the governor to proceed with caution when it comes to doling out the funds.

Sen. Mark Norris said, “What we’re trying to do is to make sure we don’t panic the way Congress did and by that I mean, let’s look very carefully at what money is available and what strings are attached.”

One lawmaker on the hill is even urging the governor to not accept any of the money from the federal government.

“These strings that come with this federal money will destroy what little state sovereignty we have left,” said Rep. Frank Niceley. “The strings will do more damage than the stimulus will do good.”

Bredesen said he has no intentions of turning any of the federal funds away.

“Tennessee taxpayers, or more precisely I guess, their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren are paying the tab for this and I don’t think it’s responsible for me to say I don’t want this piece of the money from some particular reason,” he said.

The governor said he hopes to have a budget ready to present to the legislature, which will include the stimulus money, by the end of March.

From the stimulus, most American workers will get a $400 tax credit in increments, tacked on to their paychecks.

On average, workers will see an addition $13 a week, beginning in June.

Those currently unemployed will receive an extra $25 in their weekly unemployment checks.

The stimulus also includes tax breaks for those who purchase a new car, or send a child to college.

The government will also help the millions of Americans who were recently laid off cover the cost of their COBRA health insurance.

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