Rep. Watson: Moving Tennessee Forward

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - by Rep. Eric Watson
Rep. Eric Watson
Rep. Eric Watson

What a great time to be a Tennessean.  This month, I joined my Republican colleagues from across the state to announce that Fitch Ratings, one of the country's top bond agencies, has officially named Tennessee the lowest debt state in the nation.  One of the things that we have worked tirelessly for is to lead by example.  Just as with your own personal finances, you try and live within your means, Tennessee has strived to do the same.  To be named the lowest debt state in the nation was a prime example of why many are choosing to move to this great state.

The news is based on an analysis of total debt ratios in all 50 states. The calculation is measured by combining each state’s total debt and unfunded liabilities and measuring them against the state’s average individual income level. 

The special report from Fitch revealed that the median level for states' combined debt measures 7.0 percent of 2012 personal income. Tennessee's was lowest at 1.8 percent. The nation's highest percentage was Illinois at 24.8 percent.

Fitch plans to use the debt ratios as a factor in evaluating states’ credit ratings. Favorable ratings from Fitch and the other rating agencies means lower interest rates when the state borrows money, resulting in big savings for taxpayers across the board. 

"There’s a simple reason why our state’s debt rate is so low – we borrow a small amount of money relative to the size of our government and we repay it quickly,” Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury Justin P. Wilson said. “That’s a credit to our state legislators, who have managed our finances very wisely. They have helped keep the burden that future generations of Tennesseans will have to repay low.”

The award from Fitch complements other recent accolades given to the state which honor  Tennessee's top-rated fiscal environment, including placing as the 3rd best-managed state in the country by Barron’s Magazine and being named the #1 state in the nation for retirement by Bankrate.com. 

These important rankings come on the heels of House Republicans wrapping up one of the most successful legislative sessions in Tennessee history, where efforts were focused on cutting taxes, decreasing the size of government, and passing commonsense reforms that make it as easy as possible to start and operate a business in Tennessee.

With the second half of the 108th General Assembly set to begin in only a couple short months, this most recent round of business-friendly awards prove that in Tennessee, things are moving in the right direction. Through the hard work and dedication of Governor Haslam and legislative leadership, state government has been successful in coming together to attract job-creators, inspire entrepreneurs, and put Tennesseans back to work.  Do you think the leaders in Washington, DC could learn from us?  Let me hear from you, let them hear from you, and make your voice heard.

Sterling Jetton Is The Best Choice - And Response

I am writing this letter in support of a true, longtime public servant, Sterling Jetton. Sterling worked his way through the ranks of the Assessor's Office under great leadership from former Assessors Claude Ramsey and Bill Bennett. He knows how to run the office of Assessor and has the support of his former leaders which speaks volumes for his ability to organize and to lead effectively. ... (click for more)

Gays Get 7 Percent Marriage Licenses In Hamilton County, 2 Percent Elsewhere - And Response (3)

More than a hundred people in a homosexual relationship have received marriage licenses from Hamilton County clerk Bill Knowles.  The licenses were issued from June 26 through Feb. 3, according to a county spreadsheet.  The rush to homosexual nuptials was the U.S. supreme court’s publication of the Obergefell v. Hodges opinion, which is generally said to have ... (click for more)

County School Board Considers "Best Practices Audit" On Compliance With Board Policies

The County School Board is considering carrying out a "Best Practices Audit" to determine if board policies are filtering down to the school level. Board member Greg Martin said members of the Superintendent's Student Leadership Council told him that only a fraction of students are familiar with board policies on bullying and other topics. Steve Highlander, another board member, ... (click for more)

Several Central City Schools Overcrowded, School Board Is Told

All the county school overcrowding is not out in the fast-growing East Brainerd and Ooltewah sections, school board members were told Thursday. Several central city schools are far above capacity. East Lake Elementary - with 655 students and a capacity of 493 students - is at 133 percent occupancy. Calvin Donaldson, Orchard Knob Elementary and East Side Elementary also are ... (click for more)

Tyner Overcomes Central's Hot Start To Claim 47-42 Win

Central raced to a 12-0 lead, but decided to sit back and enjoy Senior Night. Tyner went to work. Tyner battled for 29-plus minutes before taking its first lead, fought off every challenge Central could muster down the stretch and knocked off the District 6-2A regular season champions, 47-42, Thursday night at Central High School. “Central came out clicking on all ... (click for more)

Hawks Alexander, Walker Invited To NBA All-Star Weekend

Hamilton Heights Christian Academy announced today that varsity basketball players Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, both nationally ranked juniors, will take part in the NBA All-Star weekend in Toronto, Canada. Alexander has been chosen to participate in the NBA’s second Basketball without Borders Global camp. Players are selected based on their outstanding ... (click for more)