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TN Budget Back on the Table


Tuesday, May 10, 2011   

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee lawmakers and the state administration are ready to begin setting a final plan for the budget year that starts July 1. Governor Bill Haslam announced his budget amendment last week, with the overwhelming majority of the increases going to health care. The restoration of proposed cuts to health care, mental health, long-term care, and disability services will allow thousands of families and individuals to receive the help they need, according to Carol Westlake, executive director of the Tennessee Disability Coalition.

She's grateful for the restorations, but says there's more to the story.

"We are also concerned and very aware of the fact that there have been deep cuts in services that have occurred over time, that there are benefit cuts that are happening even as we speak, and that we need to continue to be vigilant."

Westlake says the proposed cuts would have been a devastating blow for nonprofit organizations providing services in mental health and intellectual disability services.

However, according to Westlake, Haslam's budget amendment demonstrated a commitment.

"That's not only to smart and effective government, but to the most vulnerable people in Tennessee and to the role of government in making sure that all Tennesseans are healthy, are safe, and that the welfare of those who are the most vulnerable in our communities is looked after."

The restoration of $34 million in health care funding will allow Tennessee to draw down $48 million in federal funds that otherwise would have gone to other states. The reduced cuts will be made up for through higher-than-expected tax receipts, savings, and an expected windfall from a longstanding funding error by the federal government.

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