Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - by 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.