Ah-HA! I Was Right
Down below, in this post taking apart the Commercial Appeal's editorial stance on Governor Bredesen's proposal to use funds normally shared with the cities and counties to bolster the State's revenue problems, I speculated:
As it turns out, Bredesen plans to accomplish that mission in part by shipping red ink to Shelby County and other localities across the state.Well, it turns out I WAS RIGHT.
Or, looked at another way, he plans to make sure that every level of Tennessee government feels the pain. Maybe he wants local leaders to see that he's serious, that they'll have to join him and not expect money to flow as it did in the past.
This week's Memphis Flyer editorial [Note: That link won't go to the correct editorial after about Tuesday, the 4th.] reports comments made by Governor Bredesen: [excerpted]
"Everybody's in the same boat. We're all in this together." That was Governor Phil Bredesen's message in a conference call to members of the Tennessee news media Monday, as the 2003 National Governors Convention was coming to an end in Washington.Yeah, it feels good to be proven right.
One such is in the matter of state-shared funds. Asked if withholding significant amounts of these would not force local governments to seek property tax increases, Bredesen said, "I don't believe that's the case. There aren't very many places that could not find some way to save some of the money that's out there the way we have in state government." Bredesen reminded his listeners that, not too long ago, he too had been in charge of a local government (as mayor of Nashville for two terms in the 1990s) "and I know what it feels like on the receiving end."
Which is to say, the governor, who has asked state agencies to make 7.5 percent cuts across the board, was preparing local governments for the same tough medicine. He outlined the substantial cuts he'd already begun in areas like health and human services, higher education, and nutrition programs -- "I'm asking everyone to pitch in a little bit as opposed to making draconian cuts" -- and suggested that local governments could make proportionate reductions of their own.
The big question is whether or not the cities and counties will knuckle under. That's a real uncertainty. The Tennessee Municipal League is pretty powerful, and once they start working the Legislature, all bets are off.
I'm still not sold on the guy -- there's still ample time for him to drop the other shoe, after all; lobbyists and legislators will give him unholy Hell trying to make him do just that. But still, it's good to see Bredesen actually doing this. It's reassuring.