South Carolina comptroller general Richard Eckstrom dropped a surprise bombshell on legislative leaders during a committee hearing on Thursday morning – telling a panel of state senators that the state’s general fund budget had been “misstated” by a whopping $3.5 billion.
Eckstrom’s comments came during his Thursday testimony before a Senate panel led by “Republican” Larry Grooms.
According to Eckstrom, the “anomaly” was uncovered when his office began “dissecting information that hit the (state’s) accounting system” prior to submitting a recent annual report. According to his testimony, Eckstrom said the discrepancy occurred in reconciling payments made to the state’s sprawling network of government-funded colleges and universities.
“We discovered there were some differences in the way the state was accounting for cash that was transferred over to colleges and universities,” Eckstrom said, noting these institutions were “the recipients of a huge amount of Covid money.”
That is correct … much to the chagrin of fiscal conservatives who believed this money should have been sent directly to taxpayers, not blown on superfluous bureaucracy.
According to Eckstrom, South Carolina’s colleges and universities are political subdivisions of the state but are “not on the state accounting system,” which according to him “introduces some complexity” in compiling annual reports.
“When transfers were made to the colleges and universities, the state should have recorded a reduction in its cash – and in the accounting system it did,” he said. “But when this was mapped, that reduction never got mapped.”
“As a result, we have this $3.5 billion restatement that we made during 2022 – which is a huge number,” Eckstrom said.
Wait … so does this mean there is a $3.5 billion hole in the state’s $34.7 billion budget?
State treasurer Curtis Loftis told me the “Eckstrom anomaly” was a “reporting issue, not a cash issue.”
“We balance the budget to the penny every day subject to third party audits,” Loftis told me. “The amount of cash we have is not affected by the reporting of the comptroller general’s office.”
Loftis added his office was doing its best to assist Eckstrom with its accounting issues, which have reportedly been building at the agency for several years.
“Republican” lawmakers have been spending hand over fist ever since taking over total control of state government in 2003. Has this massive investment in big government paid off for the Palmetto State?
That’s a negative …
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
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