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House jester Brian Kelsey filed his resolution today urging Gov. Phil Bredesen to reject millions of dollars in federal stimulus money rather than expand access to unemployment insurance programs in ways that many other states did a long time ago. Twenty-three House members signed on as co-sponsors.
"Expanding these entitlements without long-term funding will surely lead to a tax increase in Tennessee," Kelsey said. "The fiscally responsible action is to refuse to take stimulus funds that require Tennessee to expand entitlements permanently when federal funds will disappear after two years."
Actually, the resolution may not be necessary. Bredesen is saying he might turn down the money for the same reasons Kelsey gives. Tennessee would receive an extra $140 million to expand benefits to low-wage and part-time workers who have lost their jobs. The governor says he's afraid it'll mean a little tax increase for businesses in two years when the federal money disappears.
"I am glad the governor is coming around to our position now," Kelsey said, rubbing it in with Democrats. "Tennesseans will benefit from this fiscal responsibility."
Bredesen went on Fox news yesterday to talk about the stimulus package. Realizing he shares the viewpoint of crazy Republican governors on this issue, Bredesen repeatedly pointed out that he really, really likes 98 percent of the stimulus. It's just this teeny weenie part of it that he questions.