Friday, January 24, 2003

Bredesen Continues To Surprise

I have to say that I'm still impressed with Governor Bredesen. He announced today that he's going to forego the governor's annual salary. Granted, that's largely symbolic in his case. After all, he's wealthy enough to illegally give his own campaign a couple of million dollars, so it's not like he's going the hair-shirt route.

But symbolism can be important and I think in this case it does send a good message, especially to the Legislature. He still seems committed to the path of "reduction before taxation" he pushed during his campaign.

His toughest challenges are yet to come. He has to prepare a budget, facing anything between $200 and $800 million in shortfall. TennCare is also drunkenly stumbling around the landscape. Teachers' unions are grasping with sharp-nailed fingers at the teacher-pay equalisation ruling. Reforming the Tennessee Dept. of Transportation will put him squarely in confrontation with some of the strongest and most bullying special interests in the State. He has a genuine minefield to navigate.

But Bredesen's first steps have so far largely been promising ones. I'm becoming cautiously non-pessimistic.

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