Bredesen may reveal budget plan this week - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Bredesen may reveal budget plan this week

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Gov. Phil Bredesen says he may reveal his budget plan this week that could include laying off some of the state's nearly 47,000 employees.

Bredesen told reporters during a break of an energy task force meeting on Monday that he may meet with them to discuss the plan as early as Tuesday.

He has asked to address a joint assembly of the Legislature the week of May 12 to lay out details of the proposal.

The State Funding Board said last week that the state faces a projected shortfall range of as much as $384 million this year and up to $585 million next year.

Bredesen, a Democrat who ran a publicly traded company before becoming a politician, said last week that layoffs of state workers are an unavoidable component of the cuts.

The governor has not yet indicated how many of the state's employees could face layoffs. Lawmakers say the administration is working on ways to offer retirement incentives or buyouts to soften the blow.

"I'd like to do as much of it as voluntarily as possible," Bredesen said Monday. "I've got to do my job as governor in balancing the budget. I want to treat these state employees right as I do it, and I'm working very hard to try to figure out how to do that."

Critics have said the state's $750 million "rainy day" reserves should be tapped to keep the layoffs from happening, but Bredesen said he's against that.

"I don't think the first few months of a recession is the time to start spending your savings," he said.

One of the main goals of the governor's energy task force is to look for long-term ways to save the state money by helping it become more energy efficient through the use of alternative fuels, renewable energy sources and the development of clean-energy technology.

"It's clear we're doing some things, it's clear ... we can do a lot more," Bredesen said.

 

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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