Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey’s proposal to eliminate 11 oversight committees and save $850,000 advanced Tuesday in the legislature.
The Senate State and Local Government Committee voted 6-3 along party lines, with Democrats in opposition. They argued the committees perform an important role as state government watchdogs.
Committees overseeing prisons and TennCare are among those that Ramsey would abolish. The savings would come from laying off the committees’ staff.
Ramsey insisted existing committees could absorb the duties of the oversight committees.
“Private businesses all across the State of Tennessee are being forced to maximize efficiency in the face of limited resources,” he said. “It is only appropriate that we in government do the same. This bill saves tax dollars and streamlines the way we do business at the legislature.”
Sens. Thelma Harper and Joe Haynes of Nashville led the Democratic opposition.
“Boy, that’s being penny wise and pound foolish,” Haynes said.
Harper described it as a “horrible bill.”
“In order for us to make a difference, some things are going to cost,” she said. “I see this as a real hit on our ability to know what’s going on in the State of Tennessee.”
Here are the committees the bill would eliminate: Select Oversight Committee on Corrections; Select Committee on Children and Youth; Select Oversight Committee on Education; Health Equity Commission; Select Oversight Committee on TennCare; Joint Select Committee on Business Taxes; Joint Committee on Children’s Services; Charitable Gaming Oversight Committee; Select Committee on the Tennessee Education Lottery Corp.; Special Joint Committee on Workers’ Compensation Issues; and the Select Oversight Committee on Long-Term Care.