January 14th, 2010 5:33 pm | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: CLEAN UP

Secretary of State Sets Record Straight on Phantom Billions

Kate Brown

A claim often repeated by opponents of Measures 66 and 67 is that the state has billions of dollars sitting in reserve accounts that could be used rather than raising $727 million in new taxes.

The Legislative Fiscal Office, a nonpartisan agency that tracks state spending, has told WW these claims are untrue.

And today Secretary of State Kate Brown, who oversees state auditors, issued the following statement on the claims:
Some wildly inaccurate budget information has been attributed to the Secretary of
State's office in recent days and I need to set the record straight.

The Comprehensive Annual Financial Report issued by my office last week does not
identify $3.3 billion in unrestricted funds available to the Legislature, as some recent
statements have claimed. This information has been taken out of context and fails to
reflect the actual status of these funds.

Make no mistake about it: these dollars are subject to federal restrictions as well as
statutory and constitutional spending constraints. These include transportation funds
that cannot, under the law, be spent for general fund purposes, such as schools and
prisons. Expenditures from these funds can be made only for specific purposes and only
under strict guidelines.

At this critical point in the election process, with ballots now in the hands of voters, it is
more important than ever for voters to have accurate information. Anyone providing
information about state spending to help voters has an obligation to provide an honest
and fair representation. Oregonians deserve nothing less.

Here is a link to the report: http://www.sos.state.or.us/audits/reports/full/2009/2009-34.pdf

Ballots for the election are due at county elections offices by 8 pm on Jan. 26.
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