Tennessee recognized for lowest state debt

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Fitch Ratings, one of the country’s top bond agencies, has officially named Tennessee the lowest debt state in the nation.

 The news, which was officially released by Fitch earlier this week, 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% of 2012 personal income. Tennessee’s was lowest at 1.8 percent. The nation’s highest percentage was Illinois at 24.8 percent.

 “This news is another major indicator of our state’s stable fiscal environment,” said State Representative Kent Calfee (R–Kingston).

“While Washington and other states around the country are broken, Tennessee is truly doing things right.”

“This is very exciting news for Tennessee,” stated State Representative Ron Travis (R–Dayton). “Through the hard work of Governor Haslam and legislative leadership, our state is well on its way to becoming the number one location in the Southeast for high-quality jobs.”

“Tennesseans can be very proud of this news. This ranking shows that Tennessee has worked hard with leaders like Representative Calfee and Representative Travis to manage our state’s finances in a responsible manner, which has translated to more jobs and lower taxes for all Tennesseans,” said House Speaker Beth Harwell (R–Nashville).

“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 as quickly as we can,” Comptroller 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 very low.”

“Legislators also deserve credit for adequately funding our state pension plan,” Treasurer David H. Lillard, Jr. added. “Independent actuaries determine how much money we need to put into the pension plan each year to meet all of our obligations. Unlike some other states, our legislators have a history of following the actuarial recommendations. Also, the team that manages the pension fund’s money has done an excellent job of maximizing investment returns during difficult economic times.”

Kent Calfee serves as a member of the House Finance, Ways & Means Committee and House Business & Utilities Committee. Ron Travis serves as a member of the House Insurance & Banking Committee and House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee. Both lawmakers represent Roane County in the Tennessee General Assembly.