HEADLINES : Tennessee
Haslam: Compromise reached on civil service reform
NASHVILLE - Gov. Bill Haslam announced Monday a compromise with the Tennessee State Employees Association on civil service reform legislation and also said he plans to add about $28 million in spending to his proposed state budget for the coming year.
The governor's proposed amendment to the state budget calls for increasing fees paid to local governments for housing prisoners in county jails, in part to reduce complaints about an administration bill to impose longer sentences for repeat domestic violence offenders. Some local governments had protested what they called an "unfunded mandate" from the state because they will have to cover the costs of keeping jailed offenders longer.
The increase in prisoner payments by $2 per day will cost the state an estimated $4 million per year. The increase in domestic violence sentences is projected to cost local governments collectively about $8 million per year.
Other changes in the $30.2 billion budget plan from the original version submitted in February:
- The governor's proposal to reduce the state sales tax on groceries from 5.5 percent to 5.3 percent is revised to set the new rate at 5.25 percent next year. Under the Haslam plan, the rate would then fall to 5 percent in the following year. The change from 5.3 to 5.25 percent costs the state an estimated $3.3 million in lost revenue while saving consumers another nickel on a $100 grocery bill.
- Plans to eliminate about $5.5 million in funding for the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities were dropped. That includes $1 million for continuing "family support services."
- Restoration of several other previously planned cuts in social programs, including $3.9 million for Health Start and Child Health and Development Programs; $3 million for family resource centers statewide; $1.4 million for mental health "peer support centers"; $375,000 for a poison control center; $250,000 for child advocacy centers; and $250,000 to a mentoring program for children of prison inmates that is operated by Big Brothers Big Sisters organizations.