House OKs Haslam budget, minus projects

On April 27, 2012, in News 2012, by Mark Norris

Oral School funding out; Senate bill differs

From Wire and Staff Reports,
April 27, 2012

NASHVILLE — The House on Thursday passed Gov. Bill Haslam’s $31.4 billion spending plan after rejecting efforts to restore funding for several programs and to make a greater reduction in the state’s sales tax on groceries.

The chamber voted 66-30 to pass the bill.

It excludes $125,000 for the Memphis Oral School for the Deaf, $200,000 in “seed money” to help Somerville plan a higher education facility, and five other projects that are in the Senate version of the budget.

The Senate has yet to vote on its version, and the two chambers will have to reconcile differences before the measure can head to Haslam for his signature.

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville called the disagreement a “misunderstanding” over whether projects are local or regional in nature.

“If they don’t get comfortable that those are significantly important projects, then we’ll go to a conference committee,” said Norris, R-Collierville. “It’s no big deal. Just takes more time. ”

Haslam in January presented his spending proposal that called for raises for state employees, more spending on construction on college campuses and tax cuts on food and estates.

He also proposed a $335 million increase in construction and building maintenance spending at the state’s colleges, including a science building at Middle Tennessee State University.

Judicial selection plan gets House approval

NASHVILLE — A proposal to change the Tennessee Constitution to give the legislature power to reject the governor’s appointments to the state Supreme Court cleared the House on Thursday.

The House voted 70-27 in favor of the resolution. The Senate passed the measure 23-8 earlier this week.

Under the current Tennessee judicial selection method, a commission nominates appeals judges and Supreme Court justices, the governor appoints them and voters cast ballots either for or against keeping them on the bench.

The resolution would have to be again approved by both chambers by a two-thirds majority within the next two-year General Assembly before it could be put before the voters in 2014.

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