Monthly Archives: March 2012

Tennessee’s Budget Status

So I thought that since I have relatives in Tennessee, I’d take a look at their books and see what’s going on. Well, what I found was not really that surprising, especially considering what I’ve seen looking at other budget reports. According to The Sunshine Review, “Tennessee has a total state debt of approximately $35,239,489,000 when calculated by adding the total of outstanding official debt, pension and other post-employment benefits (OPEB) liabilities, Unemployment Trust Fund loans, and the budget gap.” Now, this fact didn’t surprise me at first until I looked at their population estimate (which can be found here). Tennessee has an estimated population of 6.4 million people, yet they have less state debt than Mississippi which which is estimated to have less than half of that amount of people. This shows a lot of promise for Tennessee (and it also proves that Tennessee is more conservative than Mississippi for those of you interested in politics), but there are serious problems here still.

According to the Sunshine Review, which I linked above, this is what the budget looked like in 2011.

2011 State spending & deficit in billions:

Total spending $26.7
Education $9.0
Health & human services $12.1
Protection $1.4
Resources $.86
Transport $2.2
Departments $.96

2011 Local spending & deficit in billions:

Total spending $35.4
Pension $0.4
Health care $4
Education $8.5
Welfare $1.0
Protection $3.5
Transport $1.6
Deficit $45.3

Total spending then, at both the state and local levels, was $62.1 billion, with spending on healthcare and education making up $33.6 billion of that $62.1 billion total. That’s 54% of total spending. This may be very unpopular to say, politically, but it has to be said anyway; spending on education and healthcare has to be cut. Educationally, Tennessee is doing significantly better than Mississippi, ranking at 23rd in 2011, but that’s not due to the amount of money being spent on it. If that were the determining factor of how well states do in education, as I said in my last post, California wouldn’t be ranked 34th in education.