Thursday, March 02, 2017

New audit series designed to examine contributing factors to Missouri budget crisis

(From State Auditor Nicole Galloway)

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway today announced the start of her Budget Integrity Series, which will examine the contributing factors to Missouri's current budget crisis. The initiative aims to identify the root causes of the current budget shortfall and what Missouri policy makers can do to improve the integrity of the annual budgeting process.

"The state budget is more than just numbers on paper. The decisions made in Jefferson City have real consequences for Missouri families who feel the effects in their communities," Auditor Galloway said. "My Budget Integrity Series will examine policy decisions that brought us to where we find ourselves today - more than half a billion dollars short of meeting budget priorities."

The audits in the series will include: the annual review of state use of federal dollars, known as the Statewide Single Audit; the annual review of state revenue, known as the Hancock Amendment Report; Missouri economic rankings compared to other states; an audit of tax credit programs; an audit of sales, corporate, and income tax exemptions and impacts; and an audit of the state's timeliness of issuing tax returns. Along with other past audits, this initiative will culminate in a comprehensive analysis of Missouri's current budget environment and potential future challenges and vulnerabilities.

In addition to revenue, the audits will examine the state's significant spending obligations, taking into account the rising cost of healthcare, prescription drugs, and social services.

Galloway says despite Missouri's balanced budget requirement, the process itself may be set up to fail, as the legislature finishes each session with a budget that appears to balance on paper, but no one is held accountable when the state can't make ends meet down the road.

"We need an independent review of the fiscal impact of the legislature's policy choices, and how those decisions are measured dollar for dollar against what's being pulled out of our communities in school funding dollars or repairs to roads and bridge," Auditor Galloway said. "These audits will benefit taxpayers and ensure Missourians' hard-earned dollars are spent wisely."

Audits in the Budget Integrity Series will be released individually as they are completed throughout the year.

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