shown: Virgin Falls, Sparta Tennessee
Governor Phil Bredesen
State of Tennessee
Phil Bredesen took office as Tennessee's 48th governor on January 18, 2003, delivering on a promise to leave stale political debates behind and focus on achieving real results for families. In November 2006, he was re-elected in a landslide victory ñ reportedly becoming the first governor in over a century to win all 95 counties in Tennessee.
Bredesen's strong voter mandate stems, in part, from his commitment to accountability and open government. During his first year in office, Bredesen threw open the doors to administrative budget hearings, allowing taxpayers to see for the first time the decisions that are made on how their money is spent. The Governor also established the toughest ethics rules in the history of Tennessee's executive branch.
In year one, Bredesen worked with the General Assembly to manage the state through a fiscal crisis without raising taxes or cutting funding for education. By Bredesen's fourth year in office, Tennessee had passed four balanced budgets, received top rankings from national bond rating agencies and raised its Rainy Day Fund to a record high.
Bredesen set clear priorities for the state, beginning with Tennessee's number one priority - education. He raised teacher pay above the Southeastern average and expanded the state's pilot Pre-K initiative into a program for four-year-olds across the state. He also created the Governor's Books from Birth Foundation, a statewide expansion of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library that offers children free books monthly in all 95 counties. In his fourth year, Bredesen worked with the General Assembly to increase education funding by a record $366.5 million.
To recruit new industry and jobs, Bredesen led reform of Tennessee's workers' compensation system and invested in retraining programs to help laid-off employees develop new skills. Since he took office, 2,889 companies ñ including Nissan and International Paper- have expanded in or moved to Tennessee, bringing more than 104,000 jobs and $12.8 billion in new business investment to the state.
Bredesen launched the statewide war on methamphetamine abuse with the Governor's Meth-Free Tennessee initiative, which resulted in a 50 percent decline in illegal and toxic meth labs. He also founded the Heritage Conservation Trust Fund, to increase the state's land-buying power. Since the group's creation, Tennessee has worked with public and private partners to preserve nearly 30,000 acres for the enjoyment of future generations.
Additionally, Bredesen took control of TennCare, the state's once- financially troubled Medicaid-expansion program, by preserving full enrollment for children and pursuing innovative care and disease management initiatives. Even after necessary reductions in adult enrollment, TennCare remains one of the most generous and comprehensive state health care plans in the nation. He continues to build on this foundation with Cover Tennessee, a new initiative to provide access for affordable health care for severely ill Tennesseans who have been denied health insurance, for uninsured children and for uninsured working adults.
Now, Bredesen begins his second term as Governor with a focus on raising high school and college graduation rates, boosting the economies of Tennessee's smaller and mid-sized communities, strengthening public education at every level and promoting access to health care and healthier lifestyles for all citizens, especially young Tennesseans.
Before serving as Tennessee's governor, Bredesen served as mayor of Nashville from 1991 to 1999, working with community leaders to chart a course that made Music City U.S.A. one of the best places in America to live, work and raise a family. Under his leadership, Nashville invested nearly $500 million to build new schools and hire new teachers. The city developed a state-of-the-art library system, redeveloped downtown, expanded its park system and drove down the crime rate. Also during Bredesen's tenure, Nashville enjoyed record economic growth by recruiting high-quality jobs and companies such as Dell Computer Corp. and HCA Inc. He led the city's efforts to recruit two professional sports teams: the NFL's Tennessee Titans and the NHL's Nashville Predators.
Before entering public service, Bredesen worked in the health care industry. Between research trips to the public library, he drafted a business plan at his kitchen table that led to the creation in 1980 of HealthAmerica Corp., a Nashville-based health care management company that eventually grew to more than 6,000 employees and traded on the New York Stock Exchange. The company was sold in 1986.
Bredesen and his wife, First Lady Andrea Conte, are active members in the community, locally and statewide. He is a founding member of Nashville's Table, a nonprofit group that collects discarded food from local restaurants and distributes it to the city's homeless population. He also founded the Land Trust for Tennessee, a nonprofit organization that works statewide to preserve open space and traditional family farms. Conte is founder and president of You Have the Power ñ Know How to Use It, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about crime and justice issues.
Phil Bredesen was born on November 21,1943. He grew up in rural Shortsville, N.Y., and earned a bachelor's degree in physics from Harvard University. He and Conte moved to Nashville in 1975. Bredesen is an avid hunter and outdoorsman, a licensed pilot and enjoys painting as a hobby. Bredesen and Conte have one son, Ben.