Tennessee might face billion-dollar budget hole


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee could be looking at a shortfall of at least a billion dollars in next year’s state budget.

That’s on top of a projected several hundred million dollar hole lawmakers must plug in the budget they passed before recessing last month.

“We clearly know this has been a significant and catastrophic downturn,” said Governor Bill Lee when asked about it at his Tuesday COVID-19 briefing.

While the governor has not wanted to get into projected shortfalls because tax revenues are way down with people not spending, the Tennessee House speaker is talking about those potential figures.

“We have heard where it could be a couple of hundred million dollars up to seven hundred million dollars and next year we have heard it would be a billion dollars or more in next year’s budget that would have to be cut,” Speaker Cameron Sexton told WKRN-TV on Wednesday.

Those potential figures are just that–potential, but where might those likely cuts be made for not just for fiscal 2021 which is referred to as this year’s budget, and fiscal 2022 which is called next year’s budget?

“There is a hiring freeze that Commissioner Ely just put in place and limiting what can be purchased and stuff, so you know when you have a $38-billion dollar budget, I think there are a lot of areas that I think you can cut,” added the speaker.

But its the fiscal 2022 state budget which lawmakers will work on next year that will get a lot of attention with potentially a billion dollar hole as a starting point.

Both state and local governments around the country and in Tennessee are looking at ways federal CARES act or stimulus money might be used in their budgets.

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