Gov. Bill Haslam this week signed a little-noticed executive order that puts control of financial accounting for three state departments in the Department of Finance and Administration.
Executive Order No. 13 transfers the financial accounting duties and staff of the Department of Economic and Community Development, the Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the General Services Department to Finance.
In his order, which takes effect Sunday, Haslam said the move "would be in the interest of a more economical and efficient state service."
Staffers in the departments' accounting areas will now report to Finance Commissioner Mark Emkes.
His department will have "exclusive jurisdiction and control over the department's financial accounting and reporting functions," the order says.
Emkes said in an interview that while he and Haslam both believe government operates better when it's decentralized, "there are a few functions in state government that can perhaps be done better if centralized."
"For most agencies, their core business is not accounting," Emkes added. "It's sort of a pilot. ... They realized hey, that's not my core competency. They were more than willing to have F&A step in and have central accounting step in."
That allows the departments to focus "on what they do best," Emkes said.
Health care claims
Anyone paying attention to this week's U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the federal health care law -- and who hasn't? -- heard plenty of claims about what it means from armies of politicians on both sides of the debate.
But if you're interested in a more objective look at what Democratic President Barack Obama and presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney are saying, read on.
Factcheck.org, an award-winning nonpartisan project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, is dinging both men on the accuracy of several of their claims.
• Obama is repeating his "if you like your plan, you can keep your plan" refrain. Factcheck says, "the fact [is] that at least a few million workers won't keep their employer-sponsored plans, according to the Congressional Budget Office."
• The president, Factcheck says, also "exaggerated the benefits of the law," like how many young adults were able to join their parents' plans and the number of people who will receive rebates issued by insurance companies that didn't spend enough premium dollars on health care.
• Romney repeated a number of "distortions," Factcheck says, including that the law would "cut Medicare" by $500 billion and that it "adds trillions to our deficits."
Factcheck notes the Medicare figure represents a reduction in the future growth of Medicare spending over 10 years. And, the group points out, the Congressional Budget Office says the law would reduce the deficit.
• While Romney said the law is a "job-killer," Factcheck cites the CBO's findings the law would have a "small" impact on jobs, mainly affecting the amount of labor workers choose to supply. Those getting subsidies, for instance, might work fewer hours since they're paying less for health care.
Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...
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