State Budget Update

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Lawmakers are yet to begin budget deliberations in a legislation session now anticipated to continue until mid-May. Legislative sessions in recent years have adjourned in mid-April, but the one thing members must do (per the Tennessee Constitution) is pass a balanced budget prior to adjourning. Lawmakers are awaiting the Governor’s Budget Amendment before considering a slew of member-filed amendments to the budget, including an amendment by Senator Hensley (R-Hohenwald) to create an “Office of Intellectual Diversity” at UT Knoxville. But the Governor is holding his amendment until lawmakers in both chambers have voted on the IMPROVE Act, known by some as his “gas tax” proposal and by others as the “2017 Tax Reduction Act” (based on the fact that the bill contains a greater overall tax reduction than it does an increase in the gas tax). The Senate may take a one-week recess during the last week of April while the House continues working through the IMPROVE Act and its remaining legislation.

Currently, the Senate anticipates their deliberations on the IMPROVE Act to conclude by April 20. If the House is not similarly positioned, the Senate will go home for a week until the issue is settled and budget deliberations are ready to begin.

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