FEBRUARY 09, 2010
As the nation’s most populous state begs for a an exorbitant federal handout to bail it out of a self-inflicted financial crisis, public officials spent tens of millions of tax dollars on furniture, new vehicles and frivolous conferences at luxury resorts.
Despite the budget crisis, California bureaucrats have been loose with the public cash, spending more than $75 million on furniture, cars and off-site meetings even after the governor issued an executive order directing all state agencies to cut costs and eliminate vehicle purchases unless they were for emergency purposes.
The scandalous spending spree was revealed by a state legislative panel (Assembly Committee on Accountability and Administrative Review) that assures public agencies operate efficiently. This week the committee is scheduled to call on leaders of the various state agency offenders to explain their spending, according to a newspaper report.
State officials spent nearly $45 million on new vehicles in a budget year, almost $30 million on new furniture and more than $2 million on questionable meetings and conferences at upscale hotels around the state. The California Department of Transportation spent the most on vehicles ($10.4 million) and the Department of Motor Vehicles bought nearly $2 million worth of furniture. The Department of Consumer Affairs had the largest off-site conference tab at $245,430.
The expenditures will be tough to justify considering that, more than $20 billion in the red, California has laid off tens of thousands of state employees, severely slashed the funding of its nationally-renowned public colleges and universities and cut numerous publicly funded programs.
Regardless, lawmakers twice gave themselves hefty raises in less than a year during the budget crunch and substantially raised the salaries of their staff members. Legislators in the not-so-Golden State also continue to support costly programs for illegal immigrants. California spends $4 billion a year to educate illegal aliens, $775 million on their medical care and about $500 million on other welfare benefits not covered by the feds.
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