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Auditor General Jack Wagner: Slots Gaming Industry, Not Taxpayers, Should Pay For Audits
Asks Appropriations Committee to recommend changing state law
HARRISBURG, (Feb. 25, 2009) – Auditor General Jack Wagner today asked the General Assembly to change Pennsylvania law so that slots gaming companies, and not taxpayers, are required to pay for state audits of the commonwealth’s slots casinos.
The Department of the Auditor General has the responsibility to audit Pennsylvania’s slots casinos to make sure that the commonwealth and taxpayers are getting their fair share of gaming revenues.
“Taxpayers should not pay for our audits of the gaming industry,” Wagner said. “We recommend the law be changed to require gaming entities to pay for these audits.”
Wagner, in testimony today before the House Appropriations Committee, noted that the Attorney General was being compensated for law-enforcement services resulting from the new casino industry.
“The Department of the Auditor General plays a central role in making sure that Pennsylvania’s gaming industry operates legally and that it provides all of the property tax revenue that has been promised to taxpayers,” Wagner said. “We are not seeking special treatment; we are seeking equal treatment.”
Saying that “these are perilous times for Pennsylvania,” Wagner recommended that the Department of the Auditor General’s appropriation for the 2009-10 fiscal year be reduced by 3.4 percent from its $52 million appropriation for the current fiscal year. Wagner’s budget request of $50,297,000 is lower than the $51.6 million received during the 2007-08 fiscal year.
“We think this is a fiscally responsible budget request in these difficult economic times,” Wagner said. “Our commonwealth is facing its greatest budgetary crisis in a generation. The downturn in our economy is having a negative impact on tax collections, all aspects of state government and on the lives of all Pennsylvanians.”
The Department of the Auditor General is the state’s independent fiscal watchdog and is responsible for making sure that tax dollars are spent efficiently, effectively, and for their intended purpose.
The Department of the Auditor General issues more than 5,000 audits a year, many of them mandated by state law. It audits the state’s 501 school districts, 650 liquor stores, 24 state correctional facilities, 14 universities under the State System of Higher Education, as well as thousands of municipal pensions, volunteer firefighter relief organizations and liquid-fuels funds.
Wagner said that the Department of the Auditor General’s stringent internal cost controls have permitted it to meet its mandated audits while reducing the size of its workforce and annual operating expenses. However, with new responsibilities being added each year, such as 125 charter and cyber-charter schools as well as slots casinos, the Department of the Auditor General needs additional resources to fulfill its constitutional mission, Wagner said.
Auditor General Jack Wagner is responsible for ensuring that all state money is spent legally and properly. He is the commonwealth’s elected independent fiscal watchdog, conducting financial audits, performance audits, and special investigations. The Department of the Auditor General conducts approximately 5,000 audits per year. To learn more about the Department of the Auditor General, taxpayers are encouraged to visit the department’s website at www.auditorgen.state.pa.us.
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