According to this story in the Oakland Tribune, the problem appears legion, which, if turning out to be accurate, is going to make funding for parks and other public resources, a very difficult sell for awhile, which might be a very good thing.
“SACRAMENTO — A week after uncovering a hidden-funds scandal at the state parks department, finance officials are now trying to piece together why the balance sheets for similar “special funds” are off by $2.3 billion — money that appeared to be right under their noses amid California’s financial meltdown.
“An analysis by this newspaper of California’s little-known 500-plus special funds — like the ones that included $54 million in parks money shielded from the Department of Finance — shows tens of millions of dollars in discrepancies in numerous accounts.
“The fund that gives restitution to violent crime victims was off by $29 million. The one that provides kids low-cost health insurance was $30 million out of balance. The fund that rewards people for recycling bottles and cans was $113 million off.
“Where are these dollars?” asked state Senate budget chair Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, saying it was a “big problem” that the special funds “clearly have not been getting enough attention.”
“The newspaper’s review found at least 17 accounts that appeared to have significantly more reserve cash than what individual departments reported to the finance department, though it’s unclear why.
“An account that helps build state courts had $27 million more on the controller’s ledger than the figure reported to the finance department. A pool of money that helps problem gamblers was off by $7.9 million. Another fund that assists in prison guard training was off by $6.4 million.
“The problem could date back decades and is only now coming to light after discrepancies were discovered in the parks funds, costing longtime parks director Ruth Coleman and deputy director Michael Harris their jobs.
“The potential error is especially remarkable considering how easy it would have been to catch.”