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100% Run by Republicans, Tennessee Has Budget Surplus So Huge It Can't Legally Be Spent

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Taylor Swift should be singing the blues.

Tennessee, a state that collects zero income taxes from its population, has revenue collections running a half-billion dollars ahead of projections with two months left in its fiscal year, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

But no matter what liberals might think, that’s literally more money than it can spend.

For most Americans, the Volunteer State is probably best known for the country music capital of Nashville. But it’s also one of only nine states in the country that don’t impose an income tax on their residents’ livelihood. (Its Hall Tax, a flat tax on interest and dividends, is being phased out.)

Well, just the idea of all that money staying in the pockets of the people who earned it must be galling to Democrats nationwide.

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But Tennessee is in Republican hands — just like five of the other eight states without income taxes: Alaska, Florida, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming. (Nevada, New Hampshire and Washington are the outliers.)

And that generally means that the government is a lot less likely to want to pull money out of the private economy and just give it to politicians who think they’re smart enough to spend other people’s money. (It also means that voters are a lot more unlikely to elect politicians like that in the first place.)

In Tennessee’s case, the revenue is coming from sales and corporate taxes, according to the Tennessee Star.

“Both sales tax and corporate tax revenues were the largest contributors to the month’s growth and taken together continued to outperform expectations, as they have for most of the year,” Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration Commissioner Stuart McWhorter said in a news release, according to the Star.

Is this a good argument not to put Democrats in charge of anything?

“All other tax revenues, taken as a group, were also more than the May estimates,” he said.

But the windfall isn’t all going to be spent. The administration of Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, had proposed a spending increase of 5.6 percent over the current fiscal year, according to the Star. However, the personal income of Tennesseans, according to the budget document, is estimated to increase by only 4.26 percent in 2019.

That means the spending is too high to be allowed — so the money will most likely end up in the state’s rainy day fund, the Star reported.

Like many states, Tennessee has a constitutional provision that prevents growth in state government spending from outstripping income growth among the population’s wage earners.

“In no year shall the rate of growth of appropriations from state tax revenues exceed the estimated rate of growth of the state’s economy as determined by law,” the state constitution puts it (Article II, Section 24).

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In the 2018 midterms, then-Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican running for Senate, got a tough race from Democrat Phil Bredesen, whose duplicitous campaign was blown by a Project Veritas undercover operation that showed how little his operatives respected their voters.

But Blackburn won, and both of the state’s senators are Republicans, as are its governor, Lee, and majorities of the state House and Senate — meaning 100 percent of the Tennessee government is in Republican hands.

(Regrettably, its U.S. House delegation isn’t as solid. It has two Democrats, including Steve Cohen, the guy who ate chicken in the Capitol when Attorney General William Barr refused to dignify the House Judiciary Committee’s circus-like proceedings.)

Now, Tennessee isn’t alone in guarding its fiscal future like that. According to the Tax Policy Center (a liberal think tank), 27 states impose limits on government spending.

Liberal stars like Swift — who started in Nashville and tried to swing the 2018 Senate race to the Democrats — might not like it, but it’s appreciated by everyday Americans who can do without the government’s hands in their pockets.

All of that sounds like a pretty good argument for conservatives being in charge.

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Joe has spent more than 30 years as a reporter, copy editor and metro desk editor in newsrooms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida. He's been with Liftable Media since 2015.
Joe has spent more than 30 years as a reporter, copy editor and metro editor in newsrooms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida. He's been with Liftable Media since 2015. Largely a product of Catholic schools, who discovered Ayn Rand in college, Joe is a lifelong newspaperman who learned enough about the trade to be skeptical of every word ever written. He was also lucky enough to have a job that didn't need a printing press to do it.