DENVER (CBS4)- After former Gov. John Hickenlooper came under fire for how he spent money from a little-known account in his office, CBS4 has learned there are similar accounts throughout state government that hold millions of taxpayer dollars.
The money in the accounts comes from sources like federal dollars and legal settlements, departments don't have to disclose it to the legislature. Sen. Dominick Moreno plans to change that.
The Democrat representing Adams County introduced a bill to identify all the accounts, how much money is in them and how it's being spent
As a member - and former chair - of the powerful Joint Budget Committee, he has in-depth knowledge of state finances; but he says even he didn't know about all the money state departments take in that isn't reported, and that the legislature has no control over.
"The federal government provides money to individual agencies and then expects them to use the funding as they've outlined in federal statute," said Moreno.
But as the account in the governor's office revealed, oversight is sometimes lacking. Republicans on the Joint Audit Committee ask for an audit of the fund after questionable expenditures surfaced. Democrats shot down the request. But Moreno - also a Democrat - says he wants full transparency and his bill will require it.
"We regularly get requests from departments that say, 'We have a deficiency in this area, we need more resources" but if we don't have complete picture of all the resources that those departments draw upon, then we can't make an informed decision," said Moreno.
Moreno says the Governor's Office also distributes state dollars from an emergency response fund for things like the 2013 floods; but he says there's loose accounting here too.
"There were a couple of line items that read, 'Road: $2 million. Road: $500,000.' And I'm like, 'OK, which road? Which sections were approved?' That's the type of specificity that we expect and will hold departments accountable to."
Accountability and transparency, he says, are the goals of his bill, "Those funds should follow same process as anything else, even if we don't appropriate the dollars, that transparency is so import."
Moreno expects his bill will encounter some pushback. He says it will involve a lot of data collection and reporting by state departments. But, he says good government comes first.
CBS4 partnered with the Colorado Sun on this story which will have a full report online at https://coloradosun.com Friday morning.
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