After the flap between Comptroller Strayhorn and the state leadership in 2003, in which she threatened not to certify the state budget, the Legislature reacted by moving the state performance review from the Comptroller’s office to the Legislative Budget Board. The LBB has just come out with its new report. It is much more wonkish than the Comptroller’s version used to be–lots of charts and references to what happens in other states. One item pertains to improving accountability for the governor’s Emerging Technology Fund. This is ironic, because the governor is a strong advocate for accountability in other areas of state government, such as higher education, but state law does not require the Governor’s Office to publish a report accounting for the fund’s investments and their outcomes, and none has ever been published. The LBB recommends that the governor be charged with issuing an annual report that discloses which companies the fund has invested in, the outcomes of these investments, and the instances in which the governor’s office has taken an equity position. This could be handled by a rider in the Appropriations bill. I’m for it. But I still think that the performance review could best be handled by the comptroller. Similarly, with all the information that is appearing online about best fiscal practices by school districts, the auditing of districts should be returned to the comptroller as well. The comptroller could be the “enforcer” to get recalcitrant school districts to adopt best practices.
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