Haslam presents annual budget plan at state capitol - WSMV Channel 4

Haslam presents annual budget plan at state capitol

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Gov. Bill Haslam delivered his annual budget proposal to Tennessee lawmakers on Monday evening.

Haslam's third State of the State address also outlined the Republican governor's legislative priorities for the year, including details about his proposal to introduce a school voucher program.

Haslam touted the state's successes during the recession - some of which have put more money in your wallet.

"We have not raised taxes. We have actually cut taxes on groceries, the Hall income and the inheritance and gift tax," Haslam said.

Despite big revenue growth, the governor said it's still a very difficult budget year. Much of the extra money will go to increased incarceration costs and big increases in TennCare, and that's without the possibility of an expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare.

Haslam has yet to announce whether he wants Tennessee to participate in the expansion of Medicaid under the new federal health care law. Under that plan, the federal government would pay 100 percent of cost increases in the first three years and 90 percent thereafter.

But the measure would face a hard sell in the Republican-dominated Legislature.

"Tonight, we will not be announcing a decision on Medicaid expansion. We're gonna talk about how we get to the right answer," Haslam said.

Higher education is an area that will get extra money in the budget this year. Not only does the governor want to make a big investment in some long-awaited higher ed construction projects, but he also wants to do something to increase the number of college graduates in the state.

"You're going to see some steps we're taking to increase that number and also to reduce the cost which, we think, is a key piece to increasing the amount of graduates we have," Haslam said.

Haslam also wants to make changes to workers' compensation rules this year and will make a large deposit in the state's cash reserve fund.

Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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