Phil Bredesen was born on November 21, 1943. He grew up in rural Shortsville, N.Y. He earned a bachelor's degree in physics from Harvard University. Before entering public service, Bredesen worked in the health care industry. He founded HealthAmerica Corp., a Nashville-based health care management company. Bredesen served as mayor of Nashville, Tennessee from 1991 to 1999.
Bredesen was elected Tennessee's governor in 2002 and re-elected in 2006. 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. He 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.
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, Tennessee has seen great progress in economic development, including 30 new corporate headquarters, 108,000 new jobs, and more than $13 billion in new investment.
Bredesen launched CoverTN and CoverKids to provide health insurance for working Tennesseans and uninsured children, and the programs are now providing health care to more than 17,000 children and 15,000 working adults across the state. He also celebrated the completion of a historic 127,000-acre conservation acquisition on the northern Cumberland Plateau. The project, called "Connecting the Cumberlands" because it connects the acquired property with other publicly owned land, creates a swath of protected forestland for preservation and public enjoyment that totals 200 square miles.
Throughout his second term, Bredesen will continue to 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.