The head of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review committee said today he plans to introduce a bill requiring state finance officials to ensure their accounting books are consistent and use the same tracking methods.
The idea from Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, comes after the state Department of Parks and Recreation came under fire last month for hiding nearly $54 million and state fiscal offices have kept mismatched records for years. Leno's committee will hold a hearing Wednesday to review special fund accounting and the parks department situation.
The Department of Finance completed a quick audit this month that showed billions of dollars in differences from records kept by the state Controller's Office. Finance and the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office have said most of the variances were legitimate because the Controller's Office uses different methods to mark when purchases are made and records data at a different time of the year.
The Finance review showed $268.5 million that was miscounted due to accounting errors, but most of that money was caught before lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown enacted the current budget in June. Finance Director Ana Matosantos said her department from now on will ensure that its records for 560-plus special funds are consistent with those kept by the Controller's Office.
Leno said he wants that promise in law.
"One thing I'm looking at is putting that into statute, so that's not something that future administrations can reconsider," Leno said. "It's quite surprising that it's not been done."