The Tennessee General Assembly on Thursday approved a $52.8 billion budget plan for next year.
Debate included the ultimate approval of $500 million in bonds to help the Tennessee Titans pay for a new domed stadium along the Cumberland River. Republican leaders in the Senate stripped the bonds from their version of the spending plan earlier this week but ultimately relented and restored the funding.
The votes were not easy, as some Republicans broke ranks and opposed the funding for the proposed Nashville project.
“Let them use their own darn money,” Republican Rep. Jerry Sexton said. “I don't think they ought to be using Tennessee taxpayers, and I'm not ashamed to stand up for the taxpayers of Tennessee.”
If a new stadium costs about $2 billion, the state’s $500 million in bonds would leave the Titans and Metro Nashville splitting the remainder. Some estimates have pegged the Titans’ contribution at around $700 million, and debate in the Metro Council about a major local contribution could become even more contentious than that of the state legislature.
The Associated Press noted that other major parts of the spending plan included a month-long August grocery tax holiday, an overhaul of the state’s public education funding formula and a new criminal justice measure that flies in the face of Gov. Bill Lee’s stated goals on the topic. The legislature, dominated by Lee’s fellow Republicans, also stripped from the budget $200 million in funding to relocate schools located in flood plains.