Republican lawmakers and the governor in Tennessee are doing
battle over road funding for the state.
A legislative proposal in the Tennessee General Assembly
would restore $65 million diverted from the road fund to help balance the
state’s budget. Gov. Phil Bredesen says doing that would return the state to a
The Senate Transportation Committee voted 7-1 this month to
advance the recommendation that also would prohibit $43.8 million from being
taken from roads this fiscal year and giving it to the state’s general fund,
Liz Alvey, research analyst for the transportation panel, told Land Line.
The recommendation has been forwarded to the Senate Finance Committee.
Bredesen, a Democrat, was in attack mode after the effort’s
“This election-year scramble by a select few to cater to
political interests actually does threaten the principles of sound budgeting,” Bredesen told The City Paper in Nashville, TN.
The governor rerouted $65 million from the road-building and
maintenance fund to the general fund in 2003 to help cover a budget shortfall.
He continued the practice in each of the next two budgets, transferring $217
The Senate panel voted to return the full amount from 2003
while Bredesen wants only $22 million sent back during the next fiscal year.
The governor’s plan would add another $22 million during each of the following
Bredesen last year returned about $10 million to highways on
a one-time basis. This year, the governor is calling for $11 million in
recurring funds and $11 million in one-time money to be returned.
The governor’s office said if the committee’s plan is
approved, the state would be forced to cut nearly $55 million from other
programs, The AP reported.
Senate Transportation Chairman Mark Norris said something
must be done to help transportation.
“Those monies are going to have to be found, but it was the
committee’s thought that we should meet that need by recommending that full
funding be restored,” Norris, R-Collierville, told The Associated Press.
Norris wrote in a letter to Bredesen Monday, April 24, stating
that there is one other option the governor could pursue if he doesn’t want to
send money back to transportation.
“If you remain resolute in saying the (fuel) tax is not
needed for transportation, perhaps you should reduce it at the pump now and
honestly make a case for new revenues to fund other state programs.”
– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor