Democrats who control the California Senate said they are moving to increase oversight of hundreds of state special funds by passing a bill Tuesday despite objections from Republicans who claimed they are trying to whitewash a scandal in the state parks department.
AB1487 clarifies and expands reporting requirements for more than 500 special funds scattered throughout the state budget. The funds come from fees and other levies, not general taxes.
The legislation is a response to the recent revelation of nearly $54 million in two special funds, with balances that were deliberately underreported by officials at the Department of Parks and Recreation. The funds were kept hidden even as local governments and nonprofit organizations contributed money to keep open 70 parks that were threatened with closure in July because of budget cuts.
The measure, which now goes to the Assembly, requires the state controller and the Department of Finance to use the same accounting methods in calculating the balances of special funds and compare their figures to catch surpluses and deficits. The controller's office has said it had accurate calculations for the parks funds, but the balances were underreported to the Finance Department and the Legislature.