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Questions Arise On What State Will Do With Special Funds Money (page 13660)

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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – As the Department of Finance continues to look at just how much money is stashed away in special funds, questions are being asked about how that money can be used.

Last week a newspaper put the figure near $2 billion, an estimate the state says is too high. Regardless of how much money is eventually uncovered, the question now is can that money be used to stave off budget cuts?

“In the last five years Sac State has been cut $58 million,” university spokeswoman Kim Nava said.

And if state revenues falter and proposed mid-year trigger cuts go through, Sac State and the CSU system will lose even more.

“If the trigger cut goes into effect and the tax initiative doesn’t pass (in November), we’ll be cut about $250 million additionally,” she said.

But with the discovery the state could have billions of extra money stashed away in special funds, some question why some of that money can’t be used to help programs like education.

Well it apparently already is. According to a report from the Department of Finance, the state has borrowed nearly $4 billion from special funds since 2008 to help balance the budget.

State Sen. Ted Gaines, a Republican, says the money paid as fees by specific taxpayers should be returned.

“They’re borrowing money and using it in the general fund,” he said. “That ought to be illegal. It says there is too much revenue and it should be returned to taxpayers.”

Howard Jarvis taxpayer advocate Jon Coupal says the discovery of extra money in special funds calls for an even wider review.

“What needs to be done is a top-to-bottom review of California’s finances and review which of these funds aren’t needed and could go to something else,” he said.

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