Gov. Bredesen outlines budget for 2006

Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen says education is the state's top priority.

In a 25-minute State of the State address last evening, the governor proposed adding pre-kindergarten classrooms in next year's state budget. In his fourth State of the State speech, he recommended a budget of 25-point-6 (b) billion dollars. Total spending would be about seven (M) million dollars less than in the current year. Bredesen proposed -no- new taxes. The governor recommended about 233 (M) million dollars in new spending for education. This would be for basic education needs, teacher raises, pre-K and other items.

Bredesen said Tennessee needs to improve education rates before the economy of the country passes the state by. Additionally, he proposed about 147 (M) million in new spending for health care, including more than 115 (M) million for TennCare. Elsewhere, Bredesen wants to spend 18 (M) million for building projects at college campuses, including a new law school for the University of Memphis, a new science building at Middle Tennessee State and renovation of the landmark Ayers Hall at the University of Tennessee's Knoxville campus.

**State lawmakers react to Governor Bredesen's State of the State address:

"There has been a lack of attention to better distribution of our education resources. It is definitely on our radar screen, even if maybe it isn't on the governor's right now." - Sen. Jamie Woodson, R-Knoxville, on her desire to make sure more than $200 million in new education money is spent fairly. ---

"When people say they are doing something for the children, you had better watch your wallet." - House Republican Leader Bill Dunn of Knoxville on the governor's proposal to cover all uninsured children in Tennessee. ---

"I didn't hear anything about lawsuit reform, which is an important part of the health care issue." - Senate Republican Leader Ron Ramsey of Blountville. ---

"I think the commitment he has shown to health care is something that is especially important to all of us. As legislators we hear from our constituents that that is one of the top issues that they are concerned with." - House Democratic Leader Kim McMillan of Clarksville. ---

"It's real easy to put aside 30 minutes a day. I know the chairman of our finance committee in the House walks every afternoon for about an hour after we leave here." - House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh, D-Covington, on the governor's call for personal responsibility to reduce obesity.

**Breakdown of the budget for 2006:

THE DOLLARS - $25.6 billion total spending. - $12 billion in state revenue. The rest comes from federal funding. - Total spending about $7 million less than current year. - No new taxes. NEW SPENDING - Education: $232.8 million in new spending, including about $90 million to fully fund basic education needs, $42 million for teacher raises, $20 million to expand pre-K and $20 million for students who speak English as a second language or are at risk of dropping out. - Heath care: $146.6 million in new spending, including $115.4 million for TennCare and $11.3 million for the health care safety net. - Public Safety: $4 million to upgrade disaster response communications, $500,000 for an anti-Internet sexual predator education program and $5 million to increase the reimbursement to local jails for housing state prisoners. OTHER HIGHLIGHTS - $64 million increase in pension fund payments to keep the retirement program for state workers fully funded. - $18 million in state funds for building projects on Tennessee's college campuses, including a new law school for the University of Memphis, a new science building at Middle Tennessee State and renovation of UT-Knoxville's landmark Ayers Hall. - $10 million to double the Tennessee Heritage Conservation Trust Fund's land-buying power. - $9 million in state grants, including funds for the Memphis BioWorks Foundation, the East Tennessee Historical Society Museum and a regional Civic Arts Center in Maryville. - $7 million for new projects and maintenance at state parks. - $3.5 million for drug courts for chemically dependent nonviolent offenders.