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Tennessee governor scales back on this year’s holiday event

Tennessee governor scales back on this year’s holiday event

Posted: Wednesday, December 10, 2008 9:06 pm

By ERIK SCHELZIG Associated Press Writer NASHVILLE (AP) — Gov. Phil Bredesen and first lady Andrea Conte have scaled back their annual holiday party in light of the state’s dire financial situation. The Democratic governor’s spokeswoman Lydia Lenker said the invitation-only event at the Capitol Tuesday evening was smaller than in previous years. “It was very important to them to have some sort of recognition for the holidays, that you can’t let everything go by the wayside,” Lenker said. “It’s still Christmas, and they wanted to bring everybody together for what is a modest reception.” The reception for lawmakers, governor’s staff and the press corps was expected to cost between $500 and $1,000, depending on turnout, she said. Lenker did not have a breakdown of the costs of previous events that have featured more food and entertainment. “This year’s (event) is reflective of the times that we’re in, with the severe budget crunch that we’re in,” she said. Tennessee’s budget shortfall is projected to reach as much as $1 billion by the time the fiscal year ends in June. Bredesen hasn’t ruled out the need to lay off state employees to help bridge the gap. The governor has also asked state departments to cut up to 15 percent out of their spending plans for the upcoming budget year. The larger past events have been held at the Tennessee Tower across the street from the Capitol, and at the governor’s mansion. “It has never been a lavish affair,” Lenker said. The wine being served at Tuesday’s event was left over from previous events hosted by the governor, and Bredesen and Conte were paying for small gifts for invitees out of their own pockets, Lenker said. Lenker acknowledged that even the smaller event may be considered “excessive in a year where we’re in an extreme budget crunch.” But, she said, “the governor and the first lady feel it’s very important this time of year to have this gesture of a reception for the folks that we work with through the year.” Published in The Messenger 12.10.08

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