Tennessee’s economy grew at the sixth-best rate in the country last year, according to a new government report, and Republicans and Democrats argued Tuesday over which political party can take responsibility.
House Republicans issued a news release to trumpet their claims, even though the economic growth occurred in 2010 — before their party took absolute power over state government this year.
“This ranking highlights what many of us already know: Tennessee is open for business,” House Speaker Beth Harwell said. “We have a dynamic, pro-business environment that is attracting the attention of more and more top companies with each passing day. That said, there is more work to be done. I look forward to another successful session next year that will lessen the role of government and enhance the job environment for Tennesseans.”
House Democratic Caucus chairman Mike Turner scoffed at the GOP boasting, pointing out that Democrat Phil Bredesen was the governor in 2010 and Democrats shared power in the state House.
“The Republicans haven’t been there long enough to damage the economy or help the economy,” Turner said. “This was a result of the pro-business jobs creation under the Democrats and the Bredesen administration. We were very aggressive in going out and recruiting employment as opposed to sitting back and letting them come to us, which appears to be what the Republicans are doing now. I’m glad Republicans are trying to take credit for something they didn’t do. I really don’t know what they did to create jobs.”
According to the new figures from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Tennessee showed the nation’s sixth-biggest increase in gross state product (GSP), an annual measure of the total output of goods and services. Tennessee’s GSP went up 3.52 percent last year, the largest increase in the Southeast and better than all but North Dakota, New York, Indiana, Massachusetts and West Virginia.
Forty-eight of the 50 states enjoyed economic growth. Fourteen states experienced economic growth of 3 percent or more. The typical state registered a GSP increase of 2.6 percent.
“These numbers reveal the fact our state is making a move to the top in economic growth and the success of the 2011 legislative session will go a long way towards ensuring we get there,” House GOP leader Gerald McCormick said. “With proactive measures such as tort reform and education reform, we are serious about making Tennessee the premiere destination in the country for economic development.”