Contingency plan shows 5,100 Tennesseans would lose jobs

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 4:39pm

More than 5,000 state workers would lose their jobs in the unlikely event that Congress ever slashes Tennessee’s federal revenue by more than $4 billion, according to figures released Tuesday.

Across-the-board reductions in services from public schools to health care to the environment also are among the Draconian budget cuts in contingency plans submitted to Gov. Bill Haslam.

The federal government funds two-fifths of the $30 billion state budget. The governor’s what-if exercise is aimed at showing credit rating agencies that Tennessee could cope without so much of Washington’s cash.

Haslam acknowledged such severe cuts are unlikely to happen even with Washington planning trillions of dollars in reductions in the coming years.

“We don’t think they will,” Haslam said, “but we think it’s smart of us to ask, ‘What if they do?’ ”

In July, in the midst of the debt ceiling negotiations in Washington, Moody’s Investors Service placed Tennessee and four other states on review for possible downgrading of their top-notch AAA credit ratings because of their overreliance on federal revenue.

So in preparation for a trip to New York next month to try to keep the top bond rating, state Finance Commissioner Mark Emkes asked department heads to detail how they might lop off as much as 30 percent in spending should that become necessary.

Of the 5,132 layoffs, 3,400 would come from departments that serve children, the intellectually disabled and the poor.

The state would have to close both the Harold Jordan Center and Greene Valley Developmental Center for the intellectually disabled. The Harold Jordan Center houses intellectually disabled people who have been charged with a crime. If it closed, the residents would have to go to jails, officials said.

Also included in the cuts, public schools would lose $46 million for school nutrition programs and $31 million in special education funds. Health departments would reduce programs to combat foodborne illnesses, childhood lead poisoning and sudden infant death syndrome, while environmental regulators would curtail pollution monitoring.



14 Comments on this post:

By: localboy on 8/30/11 at 3:18

Or, the state could eliminate funding in other state agencies to cover these departments...this smells a bit like scare tactics.

By: WeekendLawnCareGuy on 8/30/11 at 3:39


There is no "real" funding in other departments... they are small potatoes. These departments are where the money is and where the state labor force is located. Therefore, they are where the cuts have to come from. Please check it out if you don't trust some commentor.

By: pswindle on 8/30/11 at 7:21

I thought tht the GOP wanted the government out of their lives. You can't have it both ways.

By: T-BONE on 8/31/11 at 5:24

CUT THEM LOOSE...THEY PROBABLY VOTED REPUBLICAN! Go work in the private sector and "PAY" some taxes! Then find out what the real world and real work is like!

By: Kosh III on 8/31/11 at 6:24

State employees DO pay taxes, in fact a higher percentage of their income than others because state employees make less money than private businesses--except the top level of course who just got whopping raises.

This is just part of Haslam's plan to make massive cuts and layoffs. Putting people out of work is what they actually mean when they say they are focuses like a laser on jobs.

By: Moonglow1 on 8/31/11 at 6:26

Moonglow1: the first item that must be cut is the 35 percent raise that Haslam initiated for his commissioners. As a taxpayer I do not feel these commissioners should receive this raise. I do not support it. In fact if the TN govt is reduced by 30 percent then the commissioners will have smaller dept's to manage.

By: Moonglow1 on 8/31/11 at 6:34

Moonglow1: T-Bone: it is not true that private sector employees are more efficient than public sector employees. As a matter of fact there are far too many private sector CEOs earning millions who have failed. It seems we reward failures and crooks who now run private sector companies. They drive "efficiency" through layoffs and. off shoring jobs.

By: frodo on 8/31/11 at 7:38

Moonglow and other social engineers here...When did we become a nation where it is any of our da~n business what a CEO makes? I run a business. I made very little two years ago and even less last year. This year I'm not even sure I should renew my business is that bad this, Obama's summer of recovery. But two years from now my income might go up 400%. What business is that of yours?

And the need for a state budget contingency plan simply illustrates what folly it is to drink the salt water from the federal fountain. Haslam is doing the right thing.

Some of you remind me of the short-sighted, devil-may-care patient who blames the doctor for his disease and injuries. "Well, doctor, if you were really concerned about good health and quality of life then you wouldn't be cutting off my gangrened leg." Or, "Well, if the Governor was really concerned about jobs he wouldn't be planning to cut off state spending." Pathetic.

By: T-BONE on 8/31/11 at 7:54

" it is not true that private sector employees are more efficient than public sector employees" (TOO FUNNY)...TENNESSEE VOTED REPUBLICAN...NOW REAP WHAT YOU HAVE SOWN! Have fun trying to find a "cushy" job in the REAL world with those kind of "benefits"!

By: localboy on 8/31/11 at 9:18

I'm sorry, I was too focused on the last paragraphs with the emphasis on the service cuts to the ID and children - if you have to cut across the board, and 71 cents of every dollar is spent on Education and Health and Social Services (09-10 budget), then yes those departments and the individuals served are going to feel the pain. However ID does not make up the majority of those segments; the impact to those areas emphasized by the article could possibly be mitigated by shifting the deck chairs and pushing cuts more deeply in other areas if ID were considered so at risk as a whole. If they are making such apparent drastic cuts to ID, then the services from which funding is not being shifted must be considered more essential. For example, 98% of Greene Valley's operational funds come from the Medicaid ICF-MR program and 2% from state revenue, according to the Dept of I&DD. The census in 2009 was 255, while in 1993 it was 703. But, as the population that these centers service are so at risk, twenty percent of the article highlighted the impact. I just think they would close the state parks or cut something else entirely before cutting services to ID, children or the elderly to the danger point. The article indicates that ID would have to go to the jails - just reads like scare tatics.

By: Moonglow1 on 8/31/11 at 11:44

Moonglow1: the private sector CEO pay is my business when a particular company derives its wealth through government contracts many of which s are cost plus so the more services performed the greater the return. However like Halliburton many services are billed for but not provided.

By: GUARDIAN on 9/1/11 at 9:26

GUARDIAN-Make the cuts and get it done. We won't have a nation if it's all given away like it has been. Anyone only needs to watch a bunch of state or federal employees to see only a few work. I've been there and done that and it is a joke, BUT the joke is on the tax payer who works so everyone that works for the government or gets a free ride from the government won't have to work. I was a democrat when I worked for the government and now that I no longer work for the government I haven't become a republican but I do feel like a real American now that I'm no longer a part of the party I once loved. That party has turned into a bunch of socialist and communist. What I've made since leaving the government tit is no one's business since I've worked for it instead of bleeding the tax payer dry. NOW whine away you bunch of fleas and leaches. You are the problem.

By: yucchhii on 9/1/11 at 10:28

yucchhii So, you think there is a such thing as JOB SECURITY? Lol. If I believe that then I guess you believe all the super market tabloids AND of course...the POLITICIANS too. Those who lose their jobs in the Nashville area,....MAKE SURE THAT IF YOU ARE ONE OF THOSE WHO THINKS THEY WILL "NEVER" BE HOMELESS AND THAT HOMELESS ARE WORTHLESS PIECES OF @#%&....THAT WHEN YOU HIT THE STREETS YOU LOSE THAT ATTITUDE!! OR even if you go to the Nashville RESCUE PLAYBOY MANSION!! That's the Nashville rescue mission!!! If you've heard a lot of really BAD stories of that place, "BELIEVE IT" There will be NO exxaggeration in any of the stories!!! The Rescue mission is corrupt and THEY DO WORK ON BREAKING YOUR SPIRIT!! Don't believe the commercials they put out....they are NOT TRUE!!!

By: mstairwood on 9/3/11 at 9:39

LOL at T-BONE. He must be hooked up to the GOP koolaid IV. Knows nothing true. Laughable, these folks who think they know it all. Sadly, you'll be the ones at the end of the bread line, tbone.