• Become an SSTI Member

    As the most comprehensive resource available for those involved in technology-based economic development, SSTI offers the services that are needed to help build tech-based economies.  Learn more about membership...

  • Subscribe to the SSTI Weekly Digest

    Each week, the SSTI Weekly Digest delivers the latest breaking news and expert analysis of critical issues affecting the tech-based economic development community. Subscribe today!

Tennessee Governor Requests $29.3M for Jobs Package, Research

January 30, 2008

Referring to his fiscal year 2008-09 budget recommendation as “back to basics,” Gov. Phil Bredesen proposed significant investments in research and workforce initiatives while vowing not to tap into reserves or raise taxes.


Earlier this week during his State of the State Address, Gov. Bredesen unveiled his ambitious budget proposal, which includes a total investment of $30.5 million in workforce initiatives. The Department of Economic and Community Development is slated to receive $29.3 million for the governor’s Next Steps Jobs strategy – $25.3 million for the FastTrack Infrastructure Development Program and Job Training Assistance and $4 million for business development. Additionally, $1.2 million – the same level as last year – is recommended for the Rural Opportunity Fund, a public-private partnership implementing a small business loan program targeted to small, minority and women-owned businesses in rural parts of the state.


To provide training grants to employers in order to create and retain high-skill, high-wage jobs in emerging fields, the governor recommends $9.3 million from the Special Revenue Fund for the Tennessee Job Skills Program.


Continuing a push to position the state as a leader in alternative fuels, Gov. Bredesen is asking lawmakers to approve $5.6 million for operational funds for the second year of the University of Tennessee (UT) Biofuels Center, which the governor’s office touts as capable of producing five million gallons of biomass-based fuel per year. Last year, lawmakers allocated $41 million for a pilot switchgrass ethanol plant – the centerpiece of the state’s alternative fuels strategy (see the June 20, 2007 issue of the Digest). Additional UT research initiatives slated for funding include:

  • $8.4 million for the UT Space Institute (a slight increase over last year) for graduate study, research and assistance to private companies in aerospace engineering;
  • $3 million to provide non-recurring funding for equipment purchases at the regional biocontainment laboratory, one of nine national facilities for research into infectious agents and bioterrorism threat, which is also scheduled for completion this year; and,
  • $1 million to support the Mouse Genome Project providing researchers with a unique mouse pool allowing for analysis of multiple genetic diseases -- a program critical to the UT Health Science Center’s receiving a clinical and translational science award designation.

Funding for the Tennessee Technology Centers would significantly decrease under the governor’s recommendation – from $71.7 million in FY 2007-08 to $54.4 million in FY 2008-09. Each of the 27 centers across the state are associated with a two-year institution and provide occupational training tailored to the specific needs of businesses and industries within the geographic region they serve.


Two initiatives aimed at fostering science, technology, engineering and mathematics would receive $900,000 under the governor’s recommendation. The Tennessee Board of Regents would receive $500,000 to provide non-recurring funds for support of the teacher quality initiative that addresses the shortage of highly qualified K-12 teachers, particularly in math and science. Within the Education budget, $400,000 is requested for the Governor’s Institute for Math and Science to increase the number of students attending the residential high school from 24 to 48.


Proposing to change the GPA requirement for the HOPE scholarship from 3.0 to 2.75, Gov. Bredesen said that nearly 80 percent of the scholarship winners lose their scholarship money during their college career because of an inability to maintain the 3.0 GPA. The governor is recommending an appropriation increase of $5.3 million from recurring lottery for education revenues to allow an estimated 3,000 students with a cumulative GPA of 2.75 to retain their scholarships. Currently, students can have a 2.75 GPA their first year, but they are required to maintain a 3.0 GPA in subsequent years.


Gov. Bredesen’s FY 2008-09 budget recommendation is available at: http://www.tennesseeanytime.org/govfiles/FY08-09-Budget-Document.pdf