The Tennessean is reporting that Sentate Speaker Ron Ramsey says deeper Tennessee spending cuts may need to come sooner than originally planned because of worsening economic conditions.
The Blountville Republican said he's also concerned about Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen's plan to use federal stimulus money to ease the severity of cuts.
"I honestly believe in some cases the stimulus package is going to make things worse, because it does mask the problem," Ramsey said.
Ramsey, who is considering running for governor next year, said the state could be in worse shape once the two-year stimulus package runs out.
"I have a vested interest in what the budget looks like in January of 2011," he said.
Tennessee is projected to receive about $4.5 billion in stimulus money over the next two years. Bredesen's budget proposal envisions using the stimulus money to phase in more gradual cuts than would have otherwise been necessary.
Higher education alone would receive more than $470 million in federal stimulus money over the next three years under Bredesen's plan.
Ramsey's position on the stimulus money is drawing criticism from Democrats.
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