Conservative Group Gives Lee High Marks For Economic Freedom

photo credit: Mark Humphrey/AP

The Center Square [By Vivian Jones]- 

A conservative political coalition has ranked Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee seventh among the nation’s governors for economic freedom.

Lee received a five-star score in the inaugural Laffer-ALEC Report on Economic Freedom: Grading America’s 50 Governors – a collaboration between the American Legislative Exchange Council and Dr. Art Laffer, a former economic adviser to President Ronald Reagan.

“Taking office in 2019, Gov. Bill Lee presides as Tennessee’s executive during one of the most vibrant periods of growth the state has seen,” the report read. “Despite an influx of new tax dollars into the state, Gov. Lee has kept spending growth low.”

The analysis graded governors based on six economic policies and four economic outcomes. Governors’ policies on taxes, spending, education, labor, welfare and Medicaid, and management of federal coronavirus relief funds were considered, along with outcomes such as state debt, state spending, preparedness for financial shocks, and economic performance, including gross state product growth and employment growth.

Tennessee does not levy personal income or estate taxes and received top rankings in those categories. The report noted the expected complete phase-out of the Hall Tax on interest and dividends by January 2021 and the elimination of privilege taxes on certain professions, which were repealed in 2019.

Tennessee ranked eighth in the nation for economic outlook before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the report.

A spokesperson for the governor said it was an honor to be recognized by an esteemed group like ALEC.

“[Tennessee] is known for strong fiscal management, and I am proud our efforts are recognized in the 2020 Report on Economic Freedom by [ALEC],” Lee tweeted. “Good stewardship of taxpayer dollars will remain a priority for my administration as we move our economy forward.”

Republican governors Greg Abbot of Texas, Brain Kemp of Georgia and Kristi Noem of South Dakota earned the top three rankings.

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