Gov. Haslam lays out vision in 2013 State of the State

Gov. Haslam lays out vision in 2013 State of the State

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Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam laid out his vision for the state. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam laid out his vision for the state.
"We are committed to transforming state government so that our customers, Tennessee's taxpayers, are the primary focus," said Gov. Haslam. "We are committed to transforming state government so that our customers, Tennessee's taxpayers, are the primary focus," said Gov. Haslam.

By GENE PATTERSON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

NASHVILLE (WATE) - Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam laid out his vision for the state to lawmakers and Tennesseans in his third State of the State address.

Gov. Haslam's theme for this years State of the State was "We Are Different," an homage to his goal of bringing business principals to state government.

"We are committed to transforming state government so that our customers, Tennessee's taxpayers, are the primary focus," said Gov. Haslam.

The governor believes those principals have kept the state afloat through tough economic times, and now with revenues up instead of spending, he wants to save.

"I am proposing to put $100 million more into the rainy day fund in this budget, with the goal to reach pre-recession levels," Haslam said.

The savings is not all for a rainy day. State employees will receive a 1.5 percent pay raise. Dollars will flow to economic development efforts and the state's Basic Education Program (BEP), the funding formula through for education dollars, will be fully funded.

"We are prioritizing education in this state and that's so critical because education is economic development," said Republican Rep. Harry Brooks.

The biggest challenge will be managing healthcare. The governor said Monday night he was still undecided on Medicaid expansion.

"Fifty-five to 65, that's the age group most affected," said Democratic Rep. Joe Armstrong. "That's $13-20 billion from Medicaid expansion over several years and the first two years won't cost us a single dime."

There are capitol project funds that will benefit Knoxville, including $22 million for a new campus for the Tennessee School for the Deaf. Also coming to Knoxville, if the tobacco settlement arbitration is completed, are dollars that will go to UT Knoxville and its steam plant for conversion from coal to gas.   

"We have to meet EPA standards and we don't currently meet new ones this will provide us resource to convert from coal to natural gas and generate electricity to put on the grid," said UT Chancellor Jimmy Cheek. 

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