We have talked a lot throughout our administration about efficient and effective government, so I’d like to give a few concrete examples of what we mean by that.
For starters, let’s look at how we have better managed our state office buildings and facilities. Since we’ve been in office, we have permanently vacated more than 1 million square feet of the state’s building portfolio, saving taxpayer dollars. We have vacated 634,448 square feet of underutilized space that we owned, and we have vacated 191,511 square feet of space we were leasing from someone else. And we have done all of this primarily by renovating outdated space, rightsizing the space needed for our employees, and implementing better facilities management practices.
Additionally, we have implemented alternative workplace solutions, contributing towards the reduction of 244,957 square feet of space. That figure represents how much we have reduced space by allowing people to work more flexible. In many cases, our state employees can now work from home, work out in the community and utilize shared office space.
And while better management of our state facilities was critical, nothing tells the story of efficient and effective government better than our budgeting. We balance our budget every year in Tennessee, and since we took office we have cut taxes by $572 million. We have the lowest debt per capita in the nation, and we have increased the state’s savings account to $861 million in the last eight years, more than three times what it was when we came into office.
We’ve cut spending by more than $570 million. These are all factors that have contributed to our ability to gain AAA ratings by all three of the major bond-rating agencies. In our time in office, we have kept the growth of the state’s budget to 2 percent, a figure that is considerably lower than any administration in the last 30 years.
Efficiency, of course, can come in many forms, including education. For example, Tennessee was recently named the recipient of the Frank Newman Award for State Innovation for our SAILS program (Seamless Alignment and Integrated Learning Support), which aligns K-12 education with higher education in ways that help students avoid math remediation in college. Now that’s efficiency.
Efficiency also comes from steps like the IMPROVE Act, where we can address road and bridge projects in all 95 counties without taking on any debt, and effectiveness comes from legislation like the TEAM Act, which brings more accountability to state government. We’ve gone from a system where employment decisions were based on seniority to a system based on performance.
Our job is to provide the best services for our citizens at the lowest possible cost.
We will lead the nation by being the best stewards of the people’s money. The decisions we have made in our time in office have allowed us to reach where we are.
We are proud of the strides we have made in efficient and effective government.