NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Tennessee state department heads were asked to cut their budgets for 2021 by 12% according to Gov. Bill Lee.
The impact of COVID-19 and the shutdown gutted Tennessee's once rosy budget projections. The state went from a glowing surplus to cutting a billion dollars in a matter of months after the pandemic hit.
Lee asked state departments this fall to find budget items that could be reduced or cut to help make up for the shortfall.
Monday morning, budget hearings started for all departments, who came to the governor and a panel about areas they believed costs could be reduced.
"As you've seen today, there's a lot of proposals out there that we will be evaluating. I suspect that we'll fall somewhere close to those projections but hard to say. But there will be cuts. Appropriately so," said Lee.
The governor also said the state is in the balancing process for the long haul. A three-year plan to reach a balanced budget is already underway.
Still, he said he believes the outlook is not entirely grim.
"I have a great deal of hope for where we're headed in this state," Lee said. "Our economy is moving forward. Our unemployment rates are significantly lower. Our revenues are stronger than anticipated. So, we're making plans now for appropriate spending, moving forward. We absolutely are looking forward to plans that will include costs but will be scaled back from before."