Vowing to continue working to make Tennessee a better place to live, work and raise a family, Governor Bill Haslam addressed a gathering at the DeKalb County Republican Party's Reagan Day Dinner Thursday evening at the county complex auditorium.
The Governor commended state legislators for joining him in efforts to more wisely manage the taxpayers money, cut taxes, improve education so that high school graduates are more ready for college or a career, and create a business friendly climate in the state to attract more jobs.
"In Tennessee, we have the lowest debt per person of any of the fifty states," said Governor Haslam. When you go to bed at night, you probably should sleep with one eye open worried about how much debt we have out of Washington but at least as a Tennessean you should know that for years we in Tennessee have been responsible about how we manage your money. We have one of the two or three lowest tax systems in the country. We have a state where our savings account, what governments call rainy day funds, has doubled since we've been in office. We've lowered taxes. We've cut the tax on groceries. We eliminated the gift and inheritance tax. And we're cutting the Hall Income Tax for senior citizens. We're cutting taxes. We also owe less money than we did before. Hardly any other government anywhere can say that. I think that's what conservative government looks like. We run our budgets the way that you do and because of that we've been named one of the three best managed states in the country," the Governor continued.
As for education, Governor Haslam said the state has a primary responsibility to see that students in Tennessee are better prepared for the future. "In about three months we will be having high school graduations all across the state. One of our primary responsibilities is to make certain that when those students walk across the stage and shake the principal's hand and get a diploma that they are prepared when they walk off that stage either to go on to school, to college or that they are prepared for a job. In Tennessee we haven't always done a good job on that. About four or five years ago, Tennessee was given an F minus for truth in advertising because we were saying that ninety percent plus of our kids were proficient at their grade level. But seventy percent of those kids needed remedial work when they got to community college. Now we're raising expectations, making certain that student are prepared for the work that is out there. We do that for two reasons. One is so that our kids will have every opportunity in a very competitive world. But the second reason is because businesses want more depth of talent. They have told us we should produce more of those skill sets that are needed so we're working hard to do that, making certain that our students are prepared for this. At the end of the day, those of us in government struggle hard to make critical choices and we don't take it lightly. We know that the things we do really have impact and we want to make certain that we're preparing students and that we're making this a place where businesses want to locate," said Governor Haslam.
"Businesses are deciding where to locate by the kind of government that exists in that place. About three months ago CEO magazine polled 500 CEO's of all sized businesses from all across the country. They ranked all the states one to fifty in order of the state's you'd like to do business in. Tennessee ranked fourth. Of the top twenty states ranked by the CEO's, seventeen of them were led by Republican Governors. Of the top ten, nine were led by Republican Governors and of the top five all of them were. What that says is, we set the climate and people are choosing our states to do business," he said.
"My pledge to you is to do everything we can to make this the kind of state you're proud of and where you want to raise your family and grow your business," concluded Governor Haslam.
Following the Governor's remarks, Jennifer Winfree, local GOP Party Chair presented a plaque to Barbara Vanatta, whose late husband Kennith Vanatta served as party chairman from 2002 to 2008.
The plaque reads " Presented in memory of Kennith Vanatta, Chairman 2002-2008. For his many years of dedicated and loyal service to the party. It is people like him who have made this party strong. DeKalb County Republican Party"
Barbara Vanatta is a member of the DeKalb County Election Commission.