People in other states sometimes look at Tennessee and believe the state is doing well despite its conservative politics, but state Rep. Bill Dunn shakes his head and says the obvious: We’re doing well because of conservative management.
Dunn, elected in 1994, says it’s only been seven years since the GOP controlled both the governor’s office and both houses of the Legislature. And he rattles off accomplishments faster than this scribe can record them.
- Tennessee ranked No. 1 in economic improvement for two years in a row
- Tennessee is No. 1 in education improvement for three years in a row
- Unemployment rate is lowest in state’s history
- Savings in the rainy-day fund is at an all-time high
- Tennessee has a AAA rating from three major credit analysts
- Tennessee has taken on no new debt in the past two years
- And has cut the sales tax on food three times, totally eliminated the so-called death tax and is phasing out the Hall income tax
“Connecticut was the richest state a few years back, but now it’s a fiscal disaster,” said Dunn, speaking to the Halls Business & Professional Association in September. “Connecticut passed an income tax and all the rich people started leaving. Some moved to Tennessee.”
Dunn shared four concerns, saying they’re concerns because there’s no solution.
Debt: Tennessee’s debt equals $296 per person, while the federal debt is now $64,395 per person and rising. The federal debt recently topped $20 trillion.
Burden on business: “We went from tax and spend to borrow and spend and now (the federal government) is trying to shift (unfunded mandates) to business.”
Addiction: With addiction to legal and illegal drugs rising, Dunn says solutions are coming from Knox County. “It just seems that people want to dull their senses. What do we need to mask?”
Instability: Dunn related the parable of blind people touching an elephant. The one who grabbed the truck said an elephant is like a snake; another touched a leg and said it’s like a tree; a third touched an ear and called it a fan; while a fourth felt the tusk and called it a spear. “We can’t have a reasonable conversation. People grab one piece of the truth and that’s what they talk about.”
Hatcher touts TDS Telecom
Cindy Hatcher, senior account representative for TDS Telecom in Halls and Alabama, was the featured business speaker. She said TDS Telecom will mark its 40th anniversary in 2019. The Madison, Wisconsin-based company has 3,400 employees and 1.2 million service connections to high-speed internet, telephone and television entertainment.
A subsidiary, U.S. Cellular, has 4.8 million customers. Other businesses within TDS Telecom are One Neck IT Solutions and Bend Broadband. Hatcher said the company encourages its employees to give back to the community and gives each 16 paid hours per year to perform volunteer work.