TN leaders visit Wall Street to defend state's AAA rating - WSMV Channel 4

TN leaders visit Wall Street to defend state's AAA rating

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Tennessee leaders, including Gov. Bill Haslam, are in New York Wednesday fighting to preserve the Volunteer State's good credit rating.

Think of the state's rating the way you might think of your personal credit score.

Just like you want a high credit score so you can get approved for a mortgage and have a low interest rate on credit cards, Tennessee also wants a high rating so investors trust them.

That rating is at risk, and state leaders are trying to convince Wall Street it is still a safe bet.

If Tennessee loses that rating, it will mean the state will have higher interest rates.

More taxpayer money spent on interest rates means less taxpayer money spent on things like schools, roads and other programs.

The good news is that the three credit agencies think Tennessee is doing the right things.

The bad news, however, is that they still have concerns.

"If there's been a concern from the agencies it's based on the external factors. The external factor of what happens in Washington," Haslam said.

One concern is the fact that 40 percent of Tennessee's budget comes from federal money.

The state was prepared and presented that worst-case scenario plan that cuts 5,000 jobs and more than $4 billion from the state budget.

But they questioned whether state lawmakers would pass such a big cut if it ever came to that.

"I think they were favorably impressed that state government had looked through the process but I think the mutual feeling was at some point in time when this happens it will be more strategic and not across every agency," Tennessee Finance Commissioner Mark Emkes said.

The other big concern is that many people rely on federal money from the Ft. Campbell soldiers that call Tennessee home to Oak Ridge lab employees.

Any federal cuts could put local economies at risk.

State leaders met with all three credit agencies, but they won't know what the final outcome is for about a month or so.

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