State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.
I have long admired and respected the outstanding work of the Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) under the direction of Jan Mueller.
The LAB, like auditors around the country in other states, faces budget cuts. Governor Doyle’s proposed 2009-11 state budget calls for a one percent cut in the LAB. However, as our state budget deficit gets bigger, so, too might cuts in state agencies like the LAB.
Some perspective along with a warning is in order. The state budget hole is huge, demanding that spending cuts be made. There are few, if any sacred cows. However, the quality and value of the LAB must not be overlooked.
The LAB meticulously, diligently, thoroughly, effectively carries out its task of finding waste and fraud. The bureau’s work is extremely helpful to lawmakers in deciding what programs deserve more or less funding. Serving on the Legislative Audit Committee, I know firsthand how invaluable the LAB is to state government and to state taxpayers.
Current budget woes in every state pose a dilemma for budget cutters when it comes to auditors. How far do you wield the budget axe on the very people utilized to help save money? It is the perfect example of cutting off your nose to spite your face.
The job of state auditors has never been more challenging. Not only must auditors perform their regular duties, they must also under a federal directive track the use of federal stimulus dollars.
The inherent risk of cutting auditing offices is that waste, fraud, and abuse won’t be discovered. In that event, the taxpayers lose.
For the sake of the people who pay the bills, the work of auditors during a tough economy may be more valuable than ever.
Stateline has more on this budget area that certainly requires cautious review.