228 Positions Safe
For Coming Year
Not To Use His Veto
BY TOM YANCEY
State Rep. Eddie Yokley, D-11th, of Greene County, said Friday that he has been told that Gov. Phil Bredesen has signed the state's budget without vetoing funding for 228 jobs at Greene Valley Developmental Center.
Yokley told The Greeneville Sun he was very grateful that the governor did not use his veto power to remove funding that the budget included to protect 228 positions at Greene Valley.
"I'm just very pleased for the people of my community, and I'm thankful to Gov. Bredesen for listening. Preserving those jobs this year was so important, because of the recession we're in," Yokley said.
In a prepared statement, Gov. Bredesen said, "Eddie has been a strong voice for East Tennessee and he's been an ally of mine throughout my time as governor."
Bredesen continued, "My staff and I met with Eddie several times to discuss the importance of the jobs at Greene Valley.
"I appreciate his leadership on this issue and his willingness to work with me and other members of the legislature to keep Tennessee's finances in order."
REP. HAWK COMMENTS
State Rep. David Hawk, R-5th, of Greeneville, said Friday, "This has been a great effort to keep every job at Greene Valley Developmental Center, and I look forward to working with the next governor, to educate him about the ongoing needs, and our concerns."
Hawk added, "Folks in Greene County are the hardest-working folks in the state, and I'm honored to be a part of the Greene County legislative delegation."
State Sen. Steve Southerland, R-1st, of Morristown, informed of the governor's decision by the Sun, said, "Good. I thought he would."
Southerland continued, "I felt like the governor would sign" the budget without removing funds for GVDC jobs "because there is a court order on my desk, stating what the state had to do to get out of the lawsuit" that resulted in the closing of the Arlington Developmental Center in West Tennessee and the planned closing of the Clover Bottom Developmental Center near Nashville.
"What the governor was considering, I felt like, would have been in violation of that court order," Southerland said. "Still, I'm thankful that he changed his mind."
Yokley said, "I've never had an issue that I've been as determined about as this one, to see it to a successful end."
Yokley traveled to Nashville on Tuesday after a news report quoted Bredesen as saying he was considering using his veto power to remove funding for 228 Greene Valley jobs.
Yokley was able to meet Wednesday morning with the governor and his staff.
"I feel the trip I made to Nashville was very important, and was the right decision," Yokley said.
"The citizens of Greene Valley are going to be benefited," he added.
In addition, he said, preserving the jobs for a year will give the governor and the state Division of Intellectual Disabilities "time to work through decisions about issues that may be there as far as the number of employees."
In a meeting with reporters on Monday when he was asked if he had concerns about the budget, Gov. Bredesen said Greene Valley "is obviously way overstaffed for the number of patients it has."
Greene Valley has 1,200 employees and 250 patients.
He said he is most pleased for "the 200-some families involved," and glad that they will continue to have jobs and paychecks for another year.
Yokley, who is a part-time farmer, said, "I lost my hay through all of this, but I feel like I've gained 200-some jobs."
He said that, now that the effort has been concluded successfully, he can see that "I felt the tension on this."
But he added that the successful conclusion "makes it worthwhile to work and be a public servant."
Rep. Yokley was very heavily involved in efforts by Greene County's legislative delegation to preserve the 228 jobs that were scheduled to be cut from Greene Valley, which is one of three residential facilities in the state that provide residential care to adults with intellectual disabilities, and the only one not closed or slated to be closed.
Yokley is in his fourth term representing the 11th House District in the General Assembly. His district includes Greene County west and south of Greeneville (but not Greene Valley Developmental Center) and all of Cocke County.