CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says audits of all state agencies should be conducted regularly.
“If a state agency knows that they could be subject to scrutiny, maybe every two, maybe every three years, you’re less likely to see some of the disastrous practices that occurred,” said Morrisey.
Morrisey’s call comes after legislative auditors found several problems during an audit of the state Department of Agriculture. A $5 million revolving loan program that’s been in place for decades, what some lawmakers have called a “friends and family program,” raised red flags.
The results of that audit have been turned over to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for review.
Morrisey said regular comprehensive reviews could identify similar issues within other state agencies. “I’m offering our assistance in this process because West Virginia taxpayers deserve to root out all fraud, waste and abuse in state government,” said Morrisey.
If the Legislature signs off on the regular audits, Morrisey said the first reviews could be finalized by September and potentially lead to cost savings at a time when the state needs the money.
Six months into the current fiscal year in West Virginia, revenue collections are currently an estimated $66 million behind estimates and budget analysts are predicting a larger budget hole in the next fiscal year that begins in July.
“When you’re looking at the difficult economic times the state is facing and you have shrinking revenues for state government, we have to double down on our efforts to root out fraud, waste and abuse,” said Morrisey.
“Because, the fact is, I don’t want to increase taxes and I don’t want to increase the size and scope of state government, so what we have to do is we have to look under the hood and be more aggressive to find more savings.”
Earlier this week, House Speaker Tim Miley (D-Harrison, 48) announced new legislative proposals focused on accountability. Those proposals included legislation, which could be introduced during the ongoing regular legislative session, addressing how potential conflicts of interest involving the state attorney general are handled in the future.
“If we want to talk about conflicts, we should, because we’ve actually done everything right. I’ve stepped aside voluntarily on a number of cases. I think we’ve set the right model for how to handle things,” said Morrisey of that proposal.
“But we shouldn’t just talk about conflicts in the AG’s office. We should also look at the Legislature, at some of the potential conflicts that may emerge or across the board in state government.”
Morrisey was a guest on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline” which originated from the State Capitol ahead of the start of the 2014 Regular Legislative Session.