The Tennessee Legislature has approved fresh stints in office for the state’s comptroller and treasurer — Justin Wilson and David Lillard, respectively.
Both men have served in the roles since 2009. Both also lauded Tennessee for its general history of fiscal restraint and budget-balancing after their reappointments Wednesday. And they pledged to continue keeping a close eye on the state’s financial bottom line.
“Tennessee ranks 17th in the nation in population, but in terms of excellence in financial management, Tennessee ranks in the highest tier of our sister states,” Treasurer Lillard said during his remarks after securing the reappointment, which was done by acclimation, with no one in the joint House-Senate meeting voicing any opposition.
Lillard, who served as a Shelby County commissioner and worked in the private sector as a financial attorney prior to assuming his current job, praised the state’s “exemplary leadership,” both past and present. He said his predecessors as treasurer deserve credit for “leading our financial programs with integrity and wisdom compared to multiple other states that have taken a less prudent path.”
Lillard has been elected to serve as president of the National Association of State Treasurers.
Comptroller Wilson delivered the same short-and-to-the-point statement that’s become his customary acceptance speech for the post: “We have work to do. God bless the state of Tennessee.”
The comptroller’s primary responsibilities include auditing state and local governments and helping manage the state’s finances, a job Wilson likes to say makes him Tennessee’s top “money cop.” His office also examines government’s execution of policy initiatives.
“The number one priority is to make Tennessee government work better,” said Wilson, who like Lillard won without competition or opposition voiced among lawmakers. “That is what we focus on, and all of the aspects of it.”
He added, “Generally speaking, the people of Tennessee want good government, and that is what we try to make happen.” Wilson said the Division of State Audit, which he also oversees, has a staff of about 300 employees dedicated to probing state agencies and local governments for lackluster performance, wasteful spending and potential fraud.
Wilson said that while the Division of State Audit reports “are just one office’s opinion — that’s all they are,” he’s hopeful that they’re taken seriously and “the word gets out” among the general public with respect to their findings.
“We believe that the public process works,” he said.