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OP-ED: Audit should dive deeply into state's books
April 08, 2013, 05:00 AM Orange County Register

How much does the state government waste? Especially given that taxes in California went up by $7 billion this year, Californians want to know. This month, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee of the Legislature tasked state Auditor Elaine Howle with auditing state funds, which she said could take up to five months.

The audit request comes after several scandals involving state funds. In January, reported the Los Angeles Times, "The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection hid $3.6 million rather than depositing it into the state's cash-strapped general fund as required, interviews and documents ... show."

In December, the Sacramento Bee reported, "State officials overseeing construction of the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge agreed this year to pay a public-relations company nearly $10 million for services the Brown administration says it knew nothing about, including hundreds of thousands of dollars to conduct tours and to produce a video and commemorative book." Gov. Jerry Brown canceled the waste.

And, last summer, the Department of Parks and Recreation sat on "more than $54 million in unreported funds at the same time it had been soliciting private donations to keep 70 parks open," the Register reported. The scandal led to the resignation of parks chief Ruth Coleman.

"We very much agree with the audit," Jon Coupal told us; he's the president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which opposes tax increases. "We hope the auditor is given the tools to perform the job that needs to be done. And we hope that when waste and fraud has been revealed, that there are consequences for those involved. There are two problems with waste and fraud in California: finding it and doing something about it."

He added that he was "encouraged that the Legislature itself has begun to take its oversight responsibilities seriously." This also is happening after the Democratic Party gained supermajority status in both houses of the Legislature. Democrats seem to understand that Republicans no longer can be blamed for everything, so the money needs to be spent more prudently.

Mr. Coupal also urged other responsible government officials to go after waste and fraud, in particular Attorney General Kamala Harris and local district attorneys and grand juries.

Gov. Brown's fiscal 2013-14 state budget update in May will show whether his projection of a balanced budget from the tax increases still holds. But whether that happens, spending money frugally is an essential practice of government.

We encourage Ms. Howle to do a thorough job.

 

 

Tags: state, waste, legislature, fraud, funds, reported,


Other stories from today:

OP-ED: Audit should dive deeply into state's books
Letter: Don't text and drive
Letter: Lempert for a day
 

 
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