Thursday, June 12, 2003

BREDESEN: 'LONG-LASTING CHALLENGES'

BREDESEN: 'LONG-LASTING CHALLENGES'

Posted on Thu, Jun 12, 2003 at 4:00 AM

No light yet at the end of the tunnel. That was the message of Governor Phil Bredesen to the lawyers and judges attending Wednesday’s luncheon of the Tennessee Judicial Conference at The Peabody. Noting that he had just guided state government through unprecedented budget cuts and austerity during the legislative session concluded at the end of last month, Bredesen left little doubt there was more to come. “The reality is that we are going to have to do more with less,” said Bredesen, warning of “long-lasting challenges,” made worse by “pressure on the downward side of the tax system.” The governor said that the emphasis of the Bush administration on tax cuts would inevitably create similar pressures at all levels of government. An amateur pilot, Bredesen likened the situation to advice he was given as he was learning to fly. “When things go to hell, you’ve just got to fly the airplane, I was told. Well, we’re just trying to fly the airplane.” One of the few upbeat notes was struck when Bredesen mentioned the prospect of “new and better technology” to ease the processes of state government. Asked afterward about lottery legislation enacted in the late session, Bredesen expressed satisfaction with the outcome in general, though he continued to express concern that guidelines for awarding student scholarships might have been relaxed to the point of straining available lottery revenues. Of the now-famous compact between himself and state Senator Steve Cohen (D-Midtown), which resulted in the governor’s getting authority to appoint all seven members of the lottery administrative board, Bredesen said relations between himself and Cohen, who had been critical of Bredesen during the session, had “leveled out” but added, “I haven’t forgotten what was said.” For her part, state Representative Kim McMillan of Clarksvile, the House Democratic leader who was one of several legislators in attendance at the luncheon, said she was willing to consider Cohen’s verbal criticism of her (as a “chastising Harpy”) as merely owing to the “heat of battle.” The Midtown senator, who labored for almost two decades to secure the enactment of a Tennessee lottery, contested various points of the lottery legislation right down to the final day of the session.

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