California releases special-funds audit results


A sweeping audit of California's 560 special funds ordered by Governor Jerry Brown found that the secret $54 million hidden in the Parks Department budget for more than a decade was an anomaly.

"This basically makes it clear that there are no other hidden pots of money," said California Finance Director Ana Matosantos.

But auditors found more than $400 million in discrepancies, blamed mostly on accounting methods, the timing of when bills are counted, and just plain old human error.

For example, the Victim Compensation Fund has an extra $29 million now. That's money from criminals who must pay restitution to their victims. The state disperses the fund for things like counseling, emergency relocation or burial services.

"A little concerned because, Where was this money? Why did this happen?" said Christine Ward, executive director of Crime Victims Action Alliance.

Crime Victims Action Alliance says the fund went nearly broke last year. The fund's board had to make drastic moves to stay solvent, including lowering the maximum that victims received.

"The fund was in dire straits and the Board had to take some very serious actions and roll back some monetary caps," said Ward. The group hopes the newly found money can go toward helping more victims.

As far as Parks, Governor Brown made it clear Friday that he wants the extra Parks money to stay in that department. That's after several donors came forward threatening to rescind their contributions if leaders used the $54 million for something else.

"We're going to use the dollars for deferred maintenance and for keeping parks open," said Matosantos.

The state Finance Department says the difference between the Parks money and the Victims Fund is that someone intentionally hid the Parks money. The audit of the Parks budget is still pending.

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