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Montana Budget Director Responds to Auditing Errors

Photo courtesy of Jon King

Montana Governor Steve Bullock’s Budget Director Dan Villa has been busy the past two days, trying to answer questions about the recent audit of the Department of Administration’s financial reporting. Despite concern from the Legislative Auditor, that the state’s bond rating may be impacted by the findings, Villa said the problem is simply, a “paper error.”

“First, Montana is the most fiscally responsible state in the nation and the events around the audit don’t impact that at all,” Villa said. “We still have historic ending fund balances, we have money in the bank for what is anticipated to be a very rough fire season. What we have is a paperwork issue, we don’t have a financial issue. Every dollar and dime of the taxpayer’s money is accounted for.”

Republican Representative Randy Brodehl serves as Chair of the Interim Audit Committee. He has doubt that fixing these mistakes will be as easy as the Budget Director infers.

“Did [the auditors] catch any and all mistakes?” asked Brodehl. “I don’t know, but they did catch [125] and that was, in total, over $1 billion. Can that be easily corrected? If it could be easily corrected it probably would have been in the initial process by the budget folks on the executive side… I think it’s going to take a lot of work.”

Villa said he will be talking with bond rating agencies today, June 25, and tomorrow, to discuss what happened. All parties have agreed on one major point, there is no apparent fraud or intent behind the accounting errors. Villa says his department has hired a new state accountant and will be putting in new internal controls to address the issue.

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