Thank God for Mississippi
BY JUSTIN OWEN
“Thank God for Mississippi.” That’s a line you often hear policymakers say when talking about how we may be at the bottom when it comes to rankings such as education, but at least we rank better than our neighbors to the south. The phrase also rings true for reliance on the federal teat. A new map by the Tax Foundation shows that only two states—the aforementioned Mississippi, along with Louisiana—rely more heavily on federal tax dollars as a percentage of their budget than Tennessee.
With federal tax dollars making up a massive 39.5% of our overall state budget, it’s safe to say we are beholden to the feds in a myriad of ways. From our welfare programs, to education, to transportation, the loss of federal funding—whether it dries up or is withheld for political purposes—could devastate our otherwise solid budget.
We need to work to reduce our reliance on federal tax dollars, which erode our state’s sovereignty. Yet proponents of Insure Tennessee, Gov. Haslam’s plan to expand Medicaid by some 450,000 able-bodied adults, want even more. Another $1.4 billion in federal tax dollars means that we might just hop right over Mississippi and Louisiana for top honors in reliance on federal aid. Regardless, it means our state leaders would be shifting even more power to Washington in exchange for dollars. That’s a risky proposition. Of course, it means residents of the Magnolia State for once could say, “Thank God for Tennessee.”