State Sen. Chris Telfer (R-Bend) continues to insist there are hidden billions that the state could tap into to erase its budget deficit without a tax increase - even though the state Department of Administrative Services says, in effect, that she's full of it.
"Reports that Oregon has billions of dollars stashed away in surplus accounts - fanned by Republican legislators and opponents of proposed tax increases - are bunk, say the accountants who compile an annual report on the state's financial status," according to a news story in yesterday's Oregonian.
The story quotes Kathryn Ross, the statewide accounting and reporting manager in the Department of Administrative Services, as saying: "I'm always amazed that people could think there's a pot of gold here that no one knew about except the state controller's division."
Telfer and other Republican legislators pointed to a report that said the state has $4.4 billion in "ending fund balances" as proof that there's plenty of money to close the budget gap without passing Measures 66 and 67, which would increase individual and corporate income taxes respectively.
But according to Ross, that money is tied up in "everything from inventory and accounts receivable to funds such as gas taxes that must be spent on highway projects" and the state can't just dip into it at will.
"It's the same thing we said before," Legislative Fiscal Officer Ken Rocco told The Oregonian. "The vast majority of these funds are tied up in various special kinds of trust funds, revolving loan accounts" and other restricted accounts.
Undaunted, Telfer - whose profession is accounting - said such statements were "garbage."
"I still believe there are possible billions [available] because it doesn't say who's restricting it," she said.
Maybe what we need to do is find the leprechaun who's hiding the magic pot o' gold and force him to hand it over.