State Auditor Dave Vaudt is reviewing the way a panel of state financial experts predicts state tax revenues. That panel’s guess was off by over 60 million dollars for the just-concluded state budgeting year. Vaudt says he’s talked with the Governor’s Budget director and the Legislature’s top financial expert to try to determine what information they use and how the process of predicting state tax revenues. Vaudt says legislators and the Governor bear blame, too, for the fix the state budget’s in because they “spend everything that comes in the door.” Vaudt says state policymakers are plotting budget outlines that leave little cushion should their predictions be wrong. Vaudt says the last four-and-a-half billion dollar state budget plan called for spending down to the last million dollars of state tax revenue, and he says that’s setting the state up for problems because there are too many variables that could drive the budget in the red. Vaudt says the state should have had at least 90 million — rather than just a million — of unspent “cushion” in the budget. The three-member State Revenue Estimate Conference underwent an overhaul last year after missing its guess on state tax revenues. The director of the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, a retired banker and an accountant from a company in Mason City make up the group.
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