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Lawmakers pass $39 billion state budget amid pandemic

The budget was passed early Friday morning
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Posted at 4:40 AM, Jun 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-19 05:40:17-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Tennessee General Assembly adjourned in the early morning hours Friday after passing a budget and a landmark abortion bill.

After hours of negotiation Thursday night, lawmakers in the Tennessee House and Senate agreed on a $39 billion budget.

For the past several weeks, lawmakers have been working to make $1 billion worth of cuts to the budget due to a shortfall blamed on the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We've passed a budget that is very fiscally sound," said Rep. William Lamberth, (R) Portland. "It cuts significantly the size of government, and it invests significantly in Tennessee's future."

Some of the cuts made to the budget include no raises for state employees and Tennessee's teachers. Teachers also will not get a $1,000 bonus that was proposed instead of the raise.

"What we really saw was a partisan budget by the Republicans at a time of crisis with the COVID-19 crisis," said Rep. Mike Stewart, (D) Davidson County. "Instead of funding more unemployment and funding businesses and getting money downstream to get the economy going, the Republicans cut teacher bonuses and really did very little for the state."

Rep. Lamberth said more work will be done when lawmakers return in January.

"I can assure you the policy issues we addressed will make sure Tennessee is on good footing," said Rep. Lamberth. "Over the next few months we'll watch and pay attention as to how the ideas that we implemented into law and have passed in both chambers affect Tennessee. Hopefully most of us will be back in January after the elections and we'll reconvene and change anything that needs to be changed, reflect on anything that needs to be reflected on and get back to work for this great state."

The General Assembly adjourned sine die at about 3:15a.m. Friday.