(NASHVILLE, TN), July 8, 2010 — The state’s budget and education reform dominated the 2010 legislative year, as the 106th General Assembly adjourned to become a part of Tennessee history. Although the economic downturn limited the number of initiatives approved this year, the 2010 legislative session will also be remembered for passage of several important measures like money-saving legislation overhauling the way the state contracts for goods and services, a new law to curb drunk driving by increasing the use of interlock devices, job creation initiatives and several measures continuing the state’s war against violent crime and child sex offenders.
Passage of the $29.8 billion budget came after an unprecedented 22 consecutive months of negative revenue collections until May. The “no new taxes” budget, which funds state government for the 2010-2011 fiscal year beginning July 1, prioritizes education, jobs, public health and safety, and makes provisions for recovering from one of the worst natural disasters in Tennessee history.
The legislation follows the five-year plan passed last year to phase in economic recovery through these tough times without raising taxes. Over the last three years, the state budget has been reduced by over $1.5 billion, with almost all agencies having a reduction in their 2010-11 fiscal year base funding. Overall, this budget reflects a .5 percent decrease in total spending from the 2009-10 fiscal year.
Some of the toughest reductions, however, in the state’s TennCare Program were offset by $310 million hospital coverage assessment which provides funds for additional special hospital payments. The assessment must be renewed annually.