Speaker Glen Casada wants control of the staff responsible for providing an “independent” fiscal analysis of legislation and state finances.
The Fiscal Review Committee, created in 1967 to oversee the fiscal operations of the state, was established to provide “independent information concerning the fiscal affairs of the State.”
Under House Bill 1233, the Speakers of the House and Senate take responsibility for hiring the fiscal review executive director and any other position the speakers deem as “necessary” and determining their salaries.
Additionally, the director “serves at the pleasure of the speakers” — meaning the chief can be fired at any time.
The bill would give the speakers unprecedented authority over the agency responsible for determining the price tag for proposed legislation—a factor that can quickly sway the opinions of lawmakers.
With motivation to keep the boss happy, the director and staff might assign larger price tags to legislation carried by the speakers’ political opponents.
Rep. Rick Tillis (R-Lewisberg) made this point during discussion, clearly pointing out that “control” was the key word in the explanation of the bill.
Control of fiscal notes is power. Power is what Casada seeks. The last thing we need is to politicize another independent process.
House Bill 1233 is scheduled for a vote in the full House of Representatives on April 10. The senate version of the bill is scheduled to be heard by the Senate State and Local Government Committee on April 9.
Side note: In 2015, Casada sponsored legislation that would allow members to review the documentation that showed the fiscal analysts arrived at their conclusions. It was never voted on.
How they voted: House Bill 1233, House State Committee on April 2:
Representatives voting for the speakers’ power grab:
Rep. Rush Bricken, R-Tullahoma, District 47
Rep. Rick Eldridge, R-Morristown, District 10
Rep. Andrew Farmer, R-Sevierville, District 17
Rep. Curtis Halford, R-Dyer, District 79
Rep. Bud Hulsey, R-Kingsport, District 2
Rep. Kelly Keisling, R-Byrdstown, District 38
Rep. Justin Lafferty, R-Knoxville, District 89
Rep. Mary Littleton, R-Dickson, District 78
Rep. Bob Ramsey, R-Maryville, District 20
Rep. Bill Sanderson, R-Kenton, District 77 (bill co-sponsor)
Rep. Chris Todd, R-Jackson, District 73
Rep. Bill Beck, D-Nashville, District 51
Rep. Harold Love, Jr., D-Nashville, District 58
Rep. Rick Staples, D-Knoxville, District 15
Representatives voting no were:
Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville, District 5
Rep. Jason Powell, D-Nashville, District 53
Rep. Johnny Shaw, D-Bolivar, District 80
Rep. Rick Tillis, R-Lewisberg, District 92