Accounting error causes dispute between state agencies - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Accounting error causes dispute between state agencies

By Drew Stewart - bio | email

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) — An accounting error with state funds has two state agencies placing blame on one another.

Senate budget writers were told an accounting error was going to take more than $120 million. Half of the money has been accounted for, but now two state agencies are arguing over where the money went.

As the Senate Finance Committee met Wednesday to begin their version of the State's budget, the bleak forecast began to look even worse.
      
The Board of Economic Advisors reported to Senators that more than $60 million were off the table because a mistake in a cash transfer from the Department of Revenue to an account set up run by the State Treasurer.  
      
Adrienne Fairwell with the Department of Revenue says the money was collected by the Department and has always been there. Fairwell says last year's budget had clear instructions in a proviso for how the money was to be collected and transferred.  She says the account wasn't set up until recently, but the money was collected by the DOR.

"Under the proviso, DOR transfers the money after the Treasurer's office sets up the specific fund to do so," said Fairwell.
     
The dispute between the agencies is to when that fund was set up. Deputy Treasurer Frank Rainwater says the account has been there since September, when the Comptroller General's office set it up.  He showed us documents with dates that back it up.

"There was a separate account set up and (the Department of Revenue) was supposed to put that money into a separate account," said Rainwater.
     
The Board of Economic Advisors also told the Finance Committee the state's Medicaid agency figures are also off by $67 million. Jeff Stensland with Health and Human Services says that number is a reflection of more people needing services in hard times.

"We spent about $67 million more than we anticipated we would, and the reason for that and the reason for that is the enrollment growth we've had since the recession hit SC," said Stensland.
     
But until the budget is passed, Senate Finance chairman Hugh Leatherman (R-Florence) says he's not playing the blame game.

"I've been busy trying to get the budget started, and until I get that done, I'm not pointing fingers," said Leatherman. "That serves no purpose."

Copyright 2010 WIS. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.

Powered by Frankly