We know that by 2025 at least half the jobs in this state will require a college degree or certificate. Mathematically, there's no way to reach that goal just by equipping high school graduates with degrees. In May, we made history by signing the Tennessee Reconnect Act, making Tennessee the first state in the nation to offer all citizens — both high school graduates and adults — the chance to earn a postsecondary degree or certificate free of tuition and fees and at no cost to taxpayers.
Just as we did with Tennessee Promise, we want Tennessee Reconnect to send a clear message to everyone in Tennessee: no matter who you are, no matter what your educational path has been in the past, no matter what your income level is — you can go to college for free in Tennessee. By getting that message out, we can do two things: one, we can dramatically change the trajectory of a lot of people's lives, and two, we become highly competitive when it comes to recruiting business.
Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect provide new opportunities for individuals, but it's also about a better economic future for everyone in Tennessee.
—By Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam
Editor's note: This commentary was written before the release of the Top States 2017 data. The governor did not have knowledge of the rankings or the comprehensive data.