Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Bredesen Continues To Amaze

Governor Phil Bredesen is one busy guy these days. The day after his budget is released comes news that the Federal Department of Health and Human Services will give Tennessee TennCare program a waiver on prescription drug costs. This will give Bredesen room to start putting limits on prescription drugs. [Odd note: this story is written by two CA writers, but does not appear online. You'd think something so important would be there.] Thompson's only caveat was that there is no demand for more Federal money.

The story puts Bredesen on the defensive and quotes from two activists representing people who depend on TennCare dollars, but includes this wonderful money shot:
(TennCare) is a monster that is growing at a rate that no source of revenue can keep up with. No revenue source can grow 9 to 10 percent a year. I've got to get my arms around TennCare."
Damn but that's impressive!

Then, today, Bredesen spoke to legislative leaders in Nashville, telling them to go slow on the lottery scholarships. The Tennessean story doesn't quote Bredesen's words, but I heard some soundbites on WREC 600 this afternoon. He mentioned two of the companies angling for the lottery job, and how both had set expected revenues far lower than the Legislature was. He recommended a "conservative" approach (His word! I swear.), joking that he didn't think the companies had any reason to lie in their proposals about how much money they expected to make from a lottery.

Once again, impressive. Bredesen continues to walk the walk, day after day. Maybe everyone in Nashville is so stunned to see him act this way that this is why there's so little public or vocal opposition, other than grumbles from a few of the expected corners. There were a few rumblings yesterday from some legislators that small changes might be made, (See Bill Hobbs exhaustive roundup here. Make sure you read his other posts while you're there, OK?) but no proclamations of the budget being faulty or dead on arrival.

Speaking of Mr. Hobbs, he makes an excellent point on Bredesen's disdain for the roadbuilder lobby:
Here is a fact: Phil Bredesen is the first Tennessee governor in modern history who doesn't need the roadbuilders. Think about it. The roadbuilders are powerful because they give a lot of money to candidates running for office, They are wealthy, but they represent only a tiny chunk of the total electorate. But Bredesen is worth more than $100 million. As he showed last fall, he can toss a million bucks into his own campaign without blinking. Which is why Bredesen is the only governor who could take on the roadbuilders and reduce the state's roads budget as part of the across-the-board budget cutting. The best part is, Bredesen isn't proposing a one-year reduction in spending. He intends to make his budget the new - and lower - baseline.

''I have to reset the spending level down from where we would have been,'' Bredesen said a day after unveiling a budget that included $355 million in spending cuts. ''I've made it clear,'' he said, referring to his Cabinet, ''don't throw me anything you're expecting to get back one or two years from now. … I don't want to do this every year. Let's get the pain behind us.''
Well said, Bill.

Fun days continue in the Volunteer State.

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