Brown Gives Green light To Fraud

Steven Greenhut: I love it when government officials try to save money. They always start by cutting the most useful programs or the ones that cause the most pain to the public. California has an enormous budget, one filled with enrichment schemes for well-connected politicos (various commissions that pay 100K-plus for attending a handful of meetings) and for public employees. State salaries are enormous, as are the public employee pensions, retiree health care, etc. So what does Gov.-elect Jerry Brown choose to cut? A tiny agency ($2.8 million budget) that audits the waste and misuse of taxpayer funds.

Clearly, Brown is trying to protect his public employee allies, who don’t like all those prying eyes on the way they spend federal stimulus dollars. Brown’s talk of austerity revolves mainly around tiny cuts to office staff, etc., as a way to burnish his image as a cheapskate. Meanwhile, he appears unlikely to tackle the big stuff. And he clearly doesn’t want sophisticated auditors around peeking into the crevices of government. Check out Anthony Pignataro’s open letter to Brown for a look at how few people are really poking around this massive state government.

Although I am not an advocate for more government, it’s necessary to have departments that audit how the government spends its money. If we’re stuck with this absurdly large enterprise, then we have to have at least small agencies that look at waste, fraud and abuse, even if there is some technical redundancies. Obviously, Brown doesn’t think so. This is a bad sign that could easily be taken as a green light for secrecy and fraud.

DEC. 23

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