State Auditor Nicole Galloway has the job of overseeing the billions of federal dollars coming into the state to be spent quickly on various programs to ease the COVID-19 health and economic crisis.
“The [Parson] administration is going to have a lot of discretion and decision-making authority over this money and so citizens deserve to know how this money is coming in, where it is going and how it is benefitting them and their communities.”
The Auditor’s office is creating an online tool for Missourians to track CARES Act money. She says it’s similar to the way Auditor Tom Schweich monitored the incoming 2009 federal stimulus money in the Great Recession.
Galloway is just as concerned about the state’s reserve funds. “We will recover from this and as we recover we need to truly manage our state’s finances in a conservative way,” she says.
In October of last year, Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway warned that the state’s “rainy day fund” is not ready for a recession or disaster.
A complete copy of the report is online here.
Today, in the midst of a coronavirus-caused economic downturn, her predictions are playing out.
“I have been consistently advocating for the state to be in a better financial position and that includes the state reserves,” she tells Missourinet. She says that after a deep dive in the state’s finances, their work “revealed the difficult realities of Missouri’s budget due to years of policy decisions based on unrealistic expectations by lawmakers.”
“We knew that because we are not prepared, the state is going to have to significantly cut expenditures and services, investment in things like education and infrastructure — and that’s exactly what we’re seeing,” she says.
The fund is most often used to sustain the state’s daily operations cash flow, for example paying off tax refunds. The Parson administration borrowed $500 million in 2019, according to audits. In 2018, Moody’s Analytics ranked the state near the bottom in its economic preparedness stress test.
It would take a governor’s recommendation and then two-thirds of both the House and Senate to access the reserve funds. According to the Missouri Office of Administration, the funds would be paid back over three years starting the next fiscal year.