The folks at Cato gave the governor a D on fiscal policy.
Bill Haslam is a former businessman and mayor of Knoxville. As governor, his best fiscal move so far is to repeal Tennessee's inheritance tax. Haslam says the tax is prompting "a whole lot of people" to leave the state because "it's cheaper to die in Florida." Haslam originally called for an increase in the exemption amount, but he ultimately agreed to a full phase-out of the inheritance tax over three years. Haslam also signed a small cut in the sales tax on groceries. Balancing out those tax cuts, Haslam approved an increase in the state's hospital tax from 3.5 to 4.5 percent of hospital net income. Haslam has also been leading the charge to increase taxes on Internet sales. State general fund spending rose about 14 percent during Haslam's first year in office, which was a key factor in the governor's low grade.