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We Are Number 4

February 24, 2011

NASHVILLE — A new study found Tennesseans bore the fourth-lowest tax burden among states in fiscal year 2009.The only states with less combined state and local taxes per person were South Dakota, Nevada and Alaska.

via Study: TN had 4th lowest tax burden in 2009 | The Tennessean | tennessean.com.

Uh, I have little doubt that there are shouts of joy in the backrooms of Nashville today as folks celebrate how we are such a forward thinking, low tax state. To put things in perspective, Let’s consider the company we keep at the bottom four:

  • South Dakota and Alaska are two of the least populated states in the nation (about 1/8th of Tennessee’s), while Nevada’s population is only about a third of Tennessee’s.
  • All three states are largely wilderness oriented areas. Nevada DOES have Las Vegas, but that is the only significantly populated area in the state, and much of the rest of the state is desert.
  • Of the three states, two receive more federal assistance per person than Tennessee. Alaska is ranked 3rd in the nation receiving some $3.79 in federal assistance per person. South Dakota is ranked 14th ($1.83 per person) while Tennessee is ranked 25th, with each of us receiving about $1.50 of federal assistance.
  • Alaska’s population receives a direct subsidy from the state government due to oil and gas drilling in the state.
  • Alaska and South Dakota spend almost a third more per student in providing an education for their kids. Only Nevada spends less than TN.

The last time I checked, Tennessee’s cost of living is low, but might that be because we refuse to actually do anything?

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