State Auditor Mike Foley says budget cuts to his office came as a complete surprise and will diminish the effectiveness of the office.
Foley will have to cope with $353,000 dollars less in his office budget over the next two years.
“Well, it’s going to mean a reduction in staff, no question about that. It’s a very painful blow to the office,” Foley told reporters during a news conference in his office. “It’s going to mean less oversight, less auditing, less transparency in government transactions and we’re very concerned about it.”
Foley speculated that he would have to lay off three of the 42 auditors in his office, due to the budget cuts.
Later, in an email to Nebraska Radio Network, Foley stated:
“We will be giving careful consideration as to which audits we will no longer be able to conduct but there is no doubt that the level of audit scrutiny of State government expenditures will decrease.
Because my budget is almost exclusively devoted to personnel expenses, the only place for me to make the needed spending reductions is to reduce the size of my audit staff. I am not sure yet how many positions we will need to eliminate.
My office also receives about $1.3 million in reimbursements when we do federal funds audits and audits of local governments. That is not impacted by the veto.”
The legislature appropriated $2,153,986 for Fiscal Year 2013-2014 for the State Auditor’s office and $2,177,923 for FY 2014-2015. The governor’s line-item veto struck $176,669 from each of the fiscal years; a total cut of $353,338 over the next biennium.
Foley says the cuts sends his agency back to the budget it had seven years ago.
The governor makes no apologies for the cuts to the Auditor’s budget.
“We look at each constitutional officer as well as all the other agencies,” Heineman stated when asked about it during a news conference. “I believe he can operate very effectively with the amount of funding that we suggested for him and, obviously, it wasn’t overridden by the legislature either.”
Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha made a motion to restore the funding, but failed to get enough votes to override the governor’s veto. Chambers made the motion after the Appropriations Committee did not include an override of the Auditor’s office cuts in its recommendation to the Unicameral.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:40]