Saturday, August 15, 2009

$433M shortfall, elephant solution to be ignored.

There are two prongs in the effort to deal with what is projected to be a $433M gap between the money that the state takes in, and the money the state pours out.
One prong; cut spending, the other; raise revenue (taxes).

The third solution, albeit long term, not immediate, is to
end the waste of tax dollars.

There are a couple of reports in the New Mexico Independent, on the recent loss of more than three million dollars to embezzlement in the Jemez Mountain School District, link and link. Unless the thieves put the money they stole in a can under their beds and give it back, it is gone for ever. Those are not the only dollars that have been wasted or stolen from New Mexico Taxpayers.

According to NMI's Trip Jennings;

Balderas said the embezzlement went undetected for so long because the state is in “an accountability crisis.”

“The very fact that I have 12 to 15 auditors is just not enough to provide adequate protection to not just school districts but all levels of government,” Balderas said.

Balderas added ..., “Without implementation of proper internal controls, New Mexico’s students will be victims of fiscal mismanagement and we can’t afford to let that happen. We have a responsibility to ensure that taxpayer dollars are well-managed and protected from fraud and embezzlement.”

State Auditor Hector Balderas, in recent interview, estimated that 3-5% of all state spending is lost to corruption and incompetence. That amounts to between $180M and $300M every year. He also stated that,
if he were given 1% of the state's budget, he could end the waste of the other 2-4%, netting tax payers between $120-240M every year.

The Santa Fe New Mexican, link, offers a menu of possible savings.
"I think everything is on the table," Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings said. "It can't be just one thing; it has to be everything. We are looking at some significant cuts."
Yeah, everything is on the table except ending the gravy train;
except ending the culture of corruption that comes with a
2oo million dollar a year price tag.

Again from the SFNM,
"The worst thing I think we could do would be to not make systemic changes," (State Senator) Wilson Beffort said, "because we could end up taking our reserves down to nothing and that's not a good place to be."
Systemic changes like; ending the culture of corruption and incompetence.

And one last time from the SFNM report;
The special session will be limited to the budget.
Richardson said he won't consider any other measures.
Richardson will not consider touching the third rail of politics; ethics reform.

One has to wonder why, except that he really does not want to end the culture of corruption and the benefits it provides him, and his cronies.

photos Mark Bralley

No comments: