Tennessee General Assembly reconvenes

Tennessee General Assembly reconvenes; budget and Tenncare are top issues

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The General Assembly reconvened at midday Tuesday in Nashville. The General Assembly reconvened at midday Tuesday in Nashville.
"Obviously the revenues have not met expectations, and the one thing we are required to do constitutionally is balance our budget," said Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville. "Obviously the revenues have not met expectations, and the one thing we are required to do constitutionally is balance our budget," said Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville.
"I don't think [expanding Medicaid] has any realistic chance of happening. Honestly, we don't have the money for it anyway," said State Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville. "I don't think [expanding Medicaid] has any realistic chance of happening. Honestly, we don't have the money for it anyway," said State Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville.
"It would save the lives of 65 Tennesseeans if we did it," said Sen. Jim Kyle, D-Memphis. "We don't have the money not to save those 65 people." "It would save the lives of 65 Tennesseeans if we did it," said Sen. Jim Kyle, D-Memphis. "We don't have the money not to save those 65 people."
"I'm concerned that Tennessee is one of the few state that is going backwards. Unemployment is increasing while the rest of the nation is decreasing in unemployment.," said Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville. "I'm concerned that Tennessee is one of the few state that is going backwards. Unemployment is increasing while the rest of the nation is decreasing in unemployment.," said Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville.

By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

NASHVILLE (WATE) - State lawmakers are back in Nashville to work on new laws and Tennessee's budget for the coming year. The General Assembly reconvened at midday Tuesday in Nashville.

The number one concern for lawmakers this year is passing a budget while dealing with lower than expected revenue. The state fell around $175 million short of what was projected to be coming in, and Democrats and Republicans are now battling over how to make up for that budget shortfall.

Members of the General Assembly packed the state capitol Tuesday, taking their seats in chambers as they get back to work. Ranking highest on the priority list is tackling the $30 billion state budget.

"Obviously the revenues have not met expectations, and the one thing we are required to do constitutionally is balance our budget," said Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville.

A key issue split down party lines is whether or not to expand TennCare. Gov. Bill Haslam delayed a decision on expanding Medicaid during last year's Affordable Care Act negotiations.

State Democrats are fighting in favor of that expansion while Republicans stand in opposition.

"I don't think it has any realistic chance of happening. Honestly, we don't have the money for it anyway," said State Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville.

"It would save the lives of 65 Tennesseeans if we did it," said Sen. Jim Kyle, D-Memphis. "We don't have the money not to save those 65 people. I won't put a dollar on that and he shouldn't either."

Lawmakers say job creation and ensuring those employed have health insurance is another goal for this year's session.

"I'm concerned that Tennessee is one of the few state that is going backwards. Unemployment is increasing while the rest of the nation is decreasing in unemployment.," said Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville.

The wine in grocery stores bill will be another proposal going before the House and Senate. Proponents are hoping this will be the year it passes. Last year it made it the furthest it has ever gone in a legislative session before ultimately failing.

Meanwhile, two Tennessee lawmakers are calling the federal government to have a mandatory balanced budget and they want to amend the constitution to make it happen.

State Rep. Jeremy Faison from Cosby and State Sen. Brian Kelsey from West Tennessee filed Tuesday for a constitutional convention.

The balanced budget would apply at all times except for during a declaration of war or economic recession.

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