NASHVILLE, (April 10, 2014) – The Tennessee Senate passed several key bills this week, including the state budget and legislation aiding crime victims, as the 2014 session of the Tennessee General Assembly draws to a close. The State Senate has completed the vast majority of its business with most of the remaining action pending on bills that have passed the House of Representatives in a different form. Both the House and the Senate must agree on all provisions of a bill before sending it to the governor for his signature or a conference committee is appointed to work out the differences.
The $32.4 billion budget, which is also called the appropriations bill, is the legislation that proposes state government spending for the next fiscal year that begins on July 1, 2014 and extends to June 30, 2015. Passage of a balanced budget is the only constitutional requirement for state lawmakers.
Senate Bill 2596 improves funding for education, including an additional $47 million to fully fund the Basic Education Program to address inflationary growth. It includes an additional $8.5 million to address salary equity adjustments for teachers which will go to 83 out of 136 school districts across the state. The budget provides additional funding for the construction of a veterans nursing home in Bradley County, as well as initial start-up money for site evaluation and acquisition of land for the next state veterans’ nursing home in West Tennessee.
The budget actuarially funds the state’s consolidated retirement system obligations. In addition, TennCare will receive $77 million in new money to handle eligible but not enrolled Tennesseans and $63 million to meet medical inflation costs and utilization increases in managed care organization expenditures.
The budget keeps funding increases proposed earlier this year intact for key areas which serve some of Tennessee’s most vulnerable citizens such as the Department of Children’s Services and the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and local property tax relief for disabled veterans and elderly disabled citizens.
The bill now goes back to the House of Representatives for approval of a Senate Amendment before going to the governor for his signature.