published Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Gov. Bill Haslam budget plan that includes funding for anti-gang proposal to be considered today

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE— Gov. Bill Haslam’s estimated $31.4 billion budget plan, which now includes $109,800 for one of Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield’s anti-gang proposals, will be considered on the Senate floor this morning.

Another new provision in the 2012-2013 spending plan would enable the city of Chattanooga to facilitate the sale of the Chattanooga Lookouts Class AA baseball team should it become necessary to do so.

The provision would allow the city to keep an estimated $250,000 annually in sales tax revenues from ticket and concession sales to help fund bonds to purchase the Lookouts’ AT&T Field if necessary.

It could be used should a buyer of the Lookouts have no interest in purchasing the stadium from current owners, including Frank Burke.

Lawmakers are choosing to fund only one of two of the mayor’s anti-gang proposals. That is a proposal to expand the state’s existing Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) to include criminal gang leaders and give them lengthier sentences.

The second measure, which is not included in the amended budget, would cost the state $1.92 million annually. It sought to boost penalties for people actively participating in a gang and who know gang members are engaged in a pattern of criminal gang activity and willfully promoting felonious conduct.

Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson, R-Hixson, said he understands both the mayor’s RICO anti-gang and AT&T Field proposals are also funded in the House’s changes to Haslam’s original spending plan.

Watson and other Senate Finance Committee members approved the budget on a 10-0 vote Tuesday night.

The House Budget Subcommittee also approved the spending plan Tuesday night and the measure is scheduled to be heard in the full House Finance Committee today.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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