Local economy

Report gives Tennessee high marks for economic freedom

A logging truck passes in front of a building containing law and other offices in Dunlap, Tenn. (Photo Daavid Tulis)

A recently released report by a Canadian-based policy group says Tennessee is one of the freest states in the nation.

By Steve Wilson / The Center Square

The report, the “Economic Freedom of North America 2022,” by the Fraser Institute ranked the Volunteer State as one of the freest, along with Florida, South Dakota and Texas. At the bottom of the list for the U.S. was New York, California, Delaware and Hawaii. 

The report ranked U.S. states, Canadian provinces and Mexican states by three criteria: Government spending, taxes and regulation.

Tennessee was ranked second for the lowest taxes (the Volunteer State has no state income tax, as it is in seven other states), third for labor market freedom (Tennessee is a right to work state), but only 13th for government spending. 

Tennessee’s score in the annual Fraser report on government spending might worsen next year. 

The state’s tax revenues have skyrocketed despite a moratorium on registration fees for automobiles and autocycles. In the last fiscal year, tax revenues were $4.6 billion over estimates.

With more revenue, state agencies are asking for spending increases, including $350 million for education and $202.5 million for more incentives to lure industry to the state. The state is also planning to spend $500 million in taxpayer funds to build a new $2.1 billion stadium for the NFL’s Titans in Nashville. 

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