Gov. Phil Bredesen just finished previewing tonight's budget address for the media. He will lay out a four-year spending blueprint that he says will shrink state government outside of education expenditures by 12 percent. More news on the budget: Thanks to the federal stimulus cash, only 80 state workers will lose their jobs.
Bredesen listed these talking points for tonight's speech:
1. "We're protecting the BEP."
2. "This is a long term plan that ends up with non-BEP government 12 percent smaller than it was before."
3. "It continues to focus on job creation because hard times don't last forever."
4. "This is an opportunity to do some restructuring that would be difficult in better times and we're going to take advantage of that opportunity."
Regarding that last point, Bredesen said he still hasn't determined yet what form any higher education streamlining might take. He says he'll stick to generalities in his budget speech.
"There's some real opportunities here to rethink some things to restructure some things that are going on in state government. I'm very interested for example in the whole area of higher education and using this as an opportunity to take a hard look at how we have these things organized. Do we have the best models? Do we have the most efficient models?"