Haslam, Ramsey tell Wall Street Tennessee in fine fiscal shape

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at 2:16pm

Gov. Bill Haslam and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey wrapped up discussions with Wall Street bond agencies Wednesday and reported positive responses to Tennessee’s bid to keep its top-notch credit rating.

After meeting with Fitch, Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s agencies in New York, Haslam said, “I would characterize all three of the discussions as very positive.”

Ramsey said, “The evidence we presented was truly overwhelming.

“We believe that Tennessee is clearly a AAA state, and we told the folks at Fitch’s, Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s just that,” he added.

Tennessee holds a AAA rating from Moody’s and Fitch and a AA+ rating from Standard & Poor’s. But during this summer’s debt ceiling negotiations in Washington, Moody’s told Tennessee and four other states that they face downgrades because of their dependence on federal revenue. Moody’s later reaffirmed triple-A ratings for Tennessee and the four other states, but the agency also gave all of those states “negative” outlooks because of the federal budget volatility.

In response, Haslam directed each state department to outline how they would respond to federal funding cuts of up to 30 percent. Under the worst-case scenario, more than 5,000 state workers would lose their jobs.

In a conference call with reporters, Haslam said the bond agencies were impressed by the state’s planning for spending cuts. He said officials also pointed out that the federal government accounts for 17 percent of the state’s economy, “right at national average.” Ramsey didn’t participate in the conference call but communicated his thoughts on the meetings in a note on his Facebook page.

“Not only did we boast of our low taxes and our pro-business climate, we made clear our state government’s fiscal house is in order,” he wrote. “If this recession continues or if the federal government ends up pulling the rug out from underneath us, we will have the structure in place to withstand the hit —far better and for far longer than many other states.”

Ramsey noted that the legislature restored $70 million to its emergency “rainy day” fund in the current state budget and state debt is low.

“Put simply,” he said, “we have very little debt and what debt we do carry we pay off quickly.”

The governor and state finance officials go to New York every September to explain the state’s finances to the agencies. Haslam said officials don’t expect to learn whether the state will keep its credit rating until next month. If Tennessee’s rating is downgraded, borrowing costs would go up. 

State Democratic Party communications director Brandon Puttrese said the state’s fiscal picture would look better if Republicans would do more to create jobs.

“This dog and pony show looks obnoxious to the 300,000 unemployed Tennesseans who are struggling to find work and provide for their families.

“The quickest way to strengthen our state's fiscal house is to put those 300,000 Tennesseans back to work. If Ron Ramsey put half the effort he expends writing Facebook updates into a common sense jobs plan, Tennessee would get there a lot faster.

“I'd like to see a day where the numbers we brag about are Tennessee's slow unemployment rate and high economic output.”

12 Comments on this post:

By: Liason06 on 9/14/11 at 1:08

Uh oh, think TN is in trouble again....."Gov. Bill Haslam and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey wrapped up discussions with Wall Street bond agencies..." Wonder if Ramsey put his his cowboy boot clad feet up on their desk as he pontificated. Hope none of the bankers who will determine our credit rating were black or muslim or for that matter in anyway different than good ole boy Ramsey.

By: pswindle on 9/14/11 at 1:10

If we keep our AAA rating, thanks to Gov. Bredesen. This group of anti-people that are in control of TN, will be its downfall. Just wait and see.

By: NashNow on 9/14/11 at 1:14

Well said my fellow posters!

By: Liason06 on 9/14/11 at 8:21

Maybe Ramsey leaned back and explained to those NY bankers that he and his second cousin (draw your own conclusion) Mae Beavers were going to take over the judiciary so those pesky judges wouldn't keep messing things up. And that David Fowler was continuing to pray over them so the "bad people" in Tennessee wouldn't prevail. He probably also mentioned that polluting in Tennessee would soon be legal...providing there was a corporate profit involved. Perhaps he sealed the deal when he pulled out his gun carry permit and boasted that everyone in Tennessee with a card can carrying guns into bars....so long as they aren't drinkin'....wink wink. He may not have mentioned obesity, declining health, poverty and ignorance (those aren't things that interest him). Anyway, thanks gov haslam and lt. gov. ramsey. I feel certain the NY bond rating agencies were, uhmm, let's just say, really impressed....

By: Charlie Sommers. on 9/15/11 at 6:01

I lost all confidence in Haslam his first day in office when his first official act was to rescind that pesky financial disclosure requirement for top officials that Bredesen had put in place. If you want to be a public figure you should gain public trust by disclosing your financial connections.

By: american1974 on 9/15/11 at 7:53

The strengths of the individual states is the only thing that has kept this country afloat. The states are doing all they can amid all of the Federal laws, regulations, Federal Reserve that keeps destroying our currency and our once free market system.
Brandon Puttrese's statement just shows how clueless he is about economics. The states can only do so much. As long as companies have to pay 6% on every dollar they pay , to go toward Social Security matching, as long as minimum wage exists, as long as the Federal Reserve keeps printing money that keeps inflation up, that forces wages to be even higher for workers to buy the basics, America will not be able to compete and companies will go elsewhere to open up factories. Anyone who has a 401k, has ownership in a company and those companies have to compete with the rest of the world.
There is what you wish to be true and then there is reality. Things have changed and America must compete with Brazil, China, India even the smallest of countries. The more laws, regulations, social programs companies are forced to pay into, forced wages, Unions etc etc. They will have to go elsewhere to open a factory. The ex CEO of Intel was complaining just yesterday it would had cost them a Billion extra to open a factory in America and it just was not possible.
The reality is all the states would be better off without the federal government, (minus world wars). The first step is to abolish the Federal Reserve and do away with the politicians schemes that have destroyed the free market.
For anyone who does not understand who created and why the Federal Reserve was created by the richest families in the world. Why it’s not actually Federal and there is no Reserve, I would suggest reading The Creature from Jekyll Island.
Does everyone here realize that we were taking off of the Gold Standard, just so the country could fund the Vietnam war. Does everyone reading this understand Fiat money? The Theory of Subjective Value? Only freedom and liberty can save us.

Reading suggestions for the day
Wealth of Nations: Adam Smith
Human Action: Ludwig Von Mises
Economics in one Lesson: Henry Hazlitt
La Loi: Frédéric Bastait (One of the greatest Frenchmen who ever lived)
A Treatise on Political Economics: Jean Baptiste Say (Another great French economist)

By: pswindle on 9/15/11 at 2:43

And you think that Haslam can manage TN's business. Wait til his term is over in 4 years, and your eyes may be opened.

By: Marymeet on 9/16/11 at 12:24

If we're doing so good, why are people getting laid off and services getting cut past the bone and into the marrow?

By: pswindle on 9/17/11 at 7:35

Oh, where oh where is Bredesen? This group that we have now to represent us are operating in the dark because they are in over their heads. CLUELESS!

By: jonw on 9/17/11 at 3:56


State Democratic Party communications director Brandon Puttrese said the state’s fiscal picture would look better if Republicans would do more to create jobs.

Do you mean an Obama type stimulus plan? Oh forget that; it hasn't worked did it?

By: pswindle on 9/18/11 at 9:09

It saved milllions from being laid off. If he had not used the stimulus, we would have been in another recession like the big one that happened in the 1930's. Do you not realize that we were on the downslide? President Obama had to do something big at that moment. Do you not remember where this mess came from? George Bush hid the last 6 months of his presidency just praying for January to come so he could go home and not show is face. He knew what he had done to this country and so did Cheney.

By: flashgame on 9/22/11 at 1:18

I am impressed, Very rarely do I discover a blog that is both educative and entertaining. Your thoughts are important; the issue is something that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. I'm very happy that I stumbled across this in my search for something relating to it.