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Tennessee Officials Say They Are Down To The 'Bone' Of The Budget


This story is part of an NPR nationwide analysisof states' revenue and budgets during the pandemic.

This year, Tennessee officials were celebrating the fact that the state's tax revenues had exceeded budgeted estimates.

But that quickly changed. The revised budget approved by the legislature in June anticipates a budget shortfall of over $1 billion for next fiscal year.

During the budget debate, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally — who also serves as the Senate speaker — said on Twitter that the legislature had already "trimmed the fat and most of the meat, so we'll be into the bone of the budget."

"Probably in the 42 some odd years that I've been in the legislature, this is the worst budget crisis that we've faced," McNally said.

Among the proposals eliminated from the approved spending plan are teacher raises and a K-12 mental health trust fund.

Also cut was the proposal from earlier this year to give women who are enrolled in Tennessee's version of Medicaid postpartum health care for a year. Currently, they are covered only through pregnancy and two months after giving birth.

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán is a political reporter at WPLN in Nashville, Tenn.

Copyright 2020 WPLN News

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán is Nashville Public Radio’s political reporter. Prior to moving to Nashville, Sergio covered education for the Standard-Examiner newspaper in Ogden, Utah. He is a Puerto Rico native and his work has also appeared on NPR station WKAR, San Antonio Express-News, Inter News Service, GFR Media and WMIZ 1270 AM.