Gov. Phil Bredesen began Monday his eighth round of open budget hearings.
Upon taking office in January 2003, Bredesen made a commitment to open the budget process to give Tennesseans full view of how their tax dollars fund state government.
"I'm proud to have started the tradition of open hearings here in Tennessee and hope we will continue to serve as an example of open government," Bredesen said. "Tennessee taxpayers have a right to see how their money is being spent, and these discussions are a big part of that process. That becomes especially important in tough times like these when every dollar counts."
As he opened hearings for the FY 2010-2011 budget, Bredesen warned this will be a very difficult year in the face of serious economic challenges. He told the Memphis Commercial Appeal the state could face up to $1.5 billion in revenue shortages next year.
The budget hearings are the first step in preparing a $25 billion budget proposal that will be presented to the state legislature in January. The state has seen 17 consecutive months of declines in sales tax revenue.
"There are no 'easy' cuts left to be made," the Governor said. "This budget, in particular, is going to be the toughest I've had to prepare in all my years in public office."
Bredesen's open budget hearings traditionally begin with the Department of Education to underscore the state's commitment to education as Tennessee's number one priority.
Open budget hearings will continue through Monday, Nov. 23. Live and archived footage of budget hearings can be viewed online at www.tn.gov - click on "View Budget Hearings Online."