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Auditor Brian Sonntag asks Gov. Gregoire to veto performance-audit transfer

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on June 9, 2011 at 11:54 am |
June 9, 2011 12:43 pm
Brian Sonntag

Performance audits are supposed to save money for state government. But they’re being targeted by budget cuts that aim to — of course — save money for state government.

Gov. Chris Gregoire is considering a budget plan that would transfer $9 million from the audit fund to help find fraud in social services and to help tax collectors recover more money owed to the state.

Lawmakers wanted to bulk up both areas this year and didn’t have much money elsewhere to do it, so they took it from State Auditor Brian Sonntag‘s budget.

Now Sonntag has written a letter to Gregoire asking her to veto the transfers.

Bad enough lawmakers already swept $17 million from the fund in 2009, Sonntag writes, but this is different:

Diverting performance audit funding to support unrelated, specific activities at other agencies is wrong. It sets a precedent for future use of this money that is not in keeping with provisions of Initiative 900.

I-900 is the voter-approved measure mandating performance audits. Sonntag’s audits have been cited in legislative efforts to overhaul state printing and liquor sales, he points out in his letter.

And he reminds Gregoire his performance audits helped come up with the idea of the tax amnesty program, which has been a big windfall for the state this year. It has “collected $343 million in back taxes, $282 million for the state and $61 million for local governments,” Sonntag writes.

HAT TIP: Jason Mercier

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