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Dems Tindell addresses budget, governor’s race

State Rep. Harry Tindell said the combination of a federal stimulus package and a possible portion of the state’s own “rainy day” fund of roughly $750 million will soften the blow of rugged economic times in Tennessee — in the short run.

“We’re not just in a bad situation, we’re in an awful situation. … It’s worse that it’s ever been before,” said Tindell, representing the 13th District in Tennessee’s 106th General Assembly, during his address to 5th District Democratic Club Tuesday, Jan. 6, in Farragut Public Library.

The 48-year-old lifelong Knox County native and outgoing chair of the House Budget Subcommit-tee said the General Assembly won’t raise taxes — “you wouldn’t want to raise taxes in a down-turned economy anyway.”

Tindell said the anticipated federal government stimulus package “will help the states … by the middle and second half of next year.

“I think we’re going to get a significant amount of money to the state … it’ll take two or three years to spend it all, but it will keep us kinda in the ballgame in terms of construction and roads,” Tindell added.

“I think we’re going to get kind of a two-year breathing period and that’s going to be thanks to the federal government.”

Of programs totally funded by state taxes — about $10 billion — Tindell cited corrections. “To cut the corrections budget you’ve got to lay off guards, basically,” he said. “… If people want to let people out of jail to balance the budget, I say not.”

The bottom line? “You can’t cut to the point of the $1 billion shortfall,” Tindell said. “I don’t think you can cut $1 billion from the state budget without horrific consequences. … I think [Gov. Phil Bredesen] can come up with hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts.”

The state representative said the “easy” cuts already have been made such as “suspending pay raises, building projects, travel and discretionary funds like that.

“The second tier, which is what we’re about to encounter … we’re in a situation where we’re going to be cutting true services,” Tindell added.

“I think Gov. Bredesen is taking a very responsible approach to coming up with cuts that are responsible … the one thing he said he’s going to spare is K-through-12 education.”

Looking ahead to the 2010 gubernatorial race, Tindell said the announced gubernatorial candidacy of Republican Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam is “good for Knox County, I would love to have a governor from Knoxville. I’m not sure, goodness gracious, when the last one was … It hasn’t been in my lifetime. … That would be exciting for Knox County.”

Tindell said he predicts the next GOP gubernatorial primary winner will be either Haslam or U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp (R - 3rd District ).

Among Democrats, “The choices are a little more complicated,” Tindell said, throwing out such names as former U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr., local real estate mogul Doug Horne (owner of Republic Newspapers, Inc., parent company of farragutpress), U.S. Rep Lincoln Davis (4th District), former state House Majority Leader Kim McMillan and state Sen. Andy Berke.

Having narrowly lost a U.S. Senate election to Bob Corker in 2006, Ford can’t afford another major political setback, Tindell said. “I predict he won’t [run].”

Tindell said Horne “has the money to make it happen,” but added, “He’s unknown to most of the state. He hasn’t really announced his intentions. … It would take a whole lot for him to get up and run in a race like this. But I think you have to mention his name.”

Tindell labeled McMillan “the darkest of dark horses,” but added, “women are the secret weapon in politics” especially after [U.S.] Sen. Hillary Clinton’s presidential primary victory in Tennessee.

Tindell labeled Berke “extremely bright, extremely capable.”

As for Davis, “I believe Lincoln Davis will kinda have to be dragged into the race.”

The Democratic Party of Knox County will hold its Inauguration 2009 Democratic Celebration from 7:30 p.m. to midnight, Tuesday, Jan. 20, in Rothchild Catering & Conference Center, 8807 Kingston Pike.

Event to feature music, dancing, food and a live link to the National Inauguration Ball following the inauguration of Barack Obama as 44th President of the United States.

Meetings of 5th District Democratic Club through May have been set for Cedar Bluff Public Library the third Monday of each month (changed from third Tuesday). Next meeting begins at 6 p.m., Feb 16. Speaker had not been set at press deadline.


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