Continued budget cuts could cost the state’s independent fiscal watchdog its bite. Under next year’s proposed spending plan, the Auditor General’s Office is slated for a $2.2-million dollar (or 5%) cut. It would make it an aggregate 25% cut over the past four years, according to Auditor General Jack Wagner.
“I’m not complaining. We realize that there had to be substantial cuts in state government across the board. But, yes, we are at the bone,” Wagner told the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.
Wagner’s office conducts 4 – 5,000 audits a year, which have pointed out billions of dollars in wasteful state spending. Now, he’s warning lawmakers that it’s becoming difficult to fulfill the mandates of the office. “I’m not going to be here for this next budget – for half of it – but in the process you are harming information flowing, or audits flowing, that help you make decisions.”
Due to term limits, 2012 will be Wagner’s final year as Auditor General. The Democrat received bipartisan praise from members of the Appropriations Committee throughout the hearing. “Whether it was a Republican administration or Democratic administration, I think you were on the side of the taxpayers,” said Chairman Jake Corman (R-Centre).