State Auditor can now reveiw economic development projects

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Steps toward transparency begin… Landmark legislation allowing the State Auditor’s Office to conduct compliance and performance audits on state-funded economic development bond programs has unanimously passed both the House of Representatives and Senate.
State Auditor Stacey Pickering issued the following press release:
State Funded Programs Added to Auditor’s Purview
House Bill 1318 passes both Chambers without a dissenting vote
JACKSON- Landmark legislation allowing the State Auditor’s Office to conduct compliance and performance audits on state-funded economic development bond programs has unanimously passed both the House of Representatives and Senate.  It is now on its way to Governor Phil Bryant, who has supported the need for such legislation since his service as State Auditor. 
House Bill 1318 allows the Auditor to audit programs administered by the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) that heretofore have had little or no independent, third party, oversight even though they all utilize taxpayer money.  One such previously unaudited program helped fund the failed Beef Processors Plant in Yalobusha County.
“I am grateful to Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, House Speaker Philip Gunn, members of the legislature and our other state leaders for their support of this important measure,” State Auditor Stacey Pickering said. “I particularly thank MDA for their cooperation in crafting this measure.
“This is good-government legislation which will allow my office to work with MDA to conduct necessary audits of projects beyond the Mississippi Major Economic Impact Act, hence further protecting Mississippi taxpayers.” 
Since 2009, several hundred million dollars in incentives have been awarded by MDA that the State Auditor has not had the authority to audit.
Pickering especially praised Representative Jerry Turner, R-Baldwyn, for authoring House Bill 1318 and Senator David Blount, D-Jackson, who helped maneuver the bill through the Senate.
“Jerry and David have both been steadfast in their support of transparency in government.  They share my belief that no public funds are too sacred to be off limits for the Auditor’s Office to monitor the way they are spent.  On behalf of all Mississippi taxpayers we thank them both for all their efforts,” Pickering said. 
Specifics of the legislation:
  • Allows risk assessment and long-term cost benefit analysis of economic               development programs
  •  Adds higher risk programs to audits
  • Maintains OSA’s high standards of auditing without endangering private           sector proprietary and confidential data

Kingfish note: Good place to start: Kior.  Postponed their earnings call and report that were supposed to take place yesterday until next week when the company will also release its annual report.

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