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State’s errors in accounting adding up

Klutz

Many reports last week about the state failing to forward $206 million in tax revenues to local governments described it as the second recent major financial malfunction in state government. Just months ago, state officials “found” $320 million that had been collected but not tracked.

But as far as some Hoosier local government officials are concerned, last week’s mistake was the third accounting debacle in a little more than a year.

In February 2011, state officials said they had overpaid local governments $610 million over the previous three years. Officials blamed the overpayment on falling income tax revenue; the payments had been based on previous years’ collections.

Together, the three goofs top $1 billion – and no matter how you look at it, we’re talking real money.

One reason some local government officials feel stung: In their pursuit of tax caps a couple of years ago, Daniels and legislative leaders sharply criticized local governments, suggesting their officials were treating taxpayers’ money irresponsibly.

While state officials blame programming errors for the latest flub, let me remind them that just four years ago, the state was on the verge of collecting $6 million from Allen County taxpayers it was not due. Fortunately, the mistake was found – not by state officials but by Tera Klutz, then the chief deputy county auditor and now the auditor.

Swinging at Lugar

Richard Mourdock is getting some outside help in his primary race – both the National Rifle Association and the conservative Club for Growth have begun ad campaigns slamming Sen. Richard Lugar.

“Over 36 years in Washington, Dick Lugar has changed,” the NRA’s ad states, though I tend to believe Lugar has stayed fairly consistent while the nation – and the NRA – has moved to the right.

The campaign coincides with the beginning of early voting in Indiana.

More bad news for Lugar

The latest poll released last week showed Lugar leading Mourdock by just 42 percent to 35 percent – within the margin of error and with 23 percent of voters undecided.

The Wall Street Journal’s take: “A poll of Indiana’s hard-fought Republican Senate primary suggests danger signs for incumbent Sen. Richard Lugar, who’s been in Congress since 1977.”

And FreedomWorks, a conservative non-profit in Washington, is calling on its supporters to work for Mourdock, Politico.com reported. “Our tea party allies in Indiana need help from around the country,” wrote Brendan Steinhauser, the group’s national campaign director, in an email, according to Politico. “Why is the Indiana Senate race important to non-Hoosiers? This closely fought contest between Tea Party candidate Richard Mourdock and 36-year moderate Republican incumbent Richard Lugar is the defining race in 2012 for the Tea Party movement.”

Tracy Warner, editorial page editor, has worked at The Journal Gazette since 1981. He can be reached at 461-8113 or by email, twarner@jg.net.

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