"When I saw the numbers, I said holy crap."
- The state Parks Department can't figure out why they have millions of dollars in extra money just appearing by magic every year.
- But Socialist Democrats still demand more and more tax increases.
Over and again, budget officials at the California Department of Parks and Recreation struggled to understand why every fiscal year ended with millions of dollars in surplus cash on hand.
At least since 2009, budget reviews conducted by the department each January showed a multimillion-dollar surplus, according to hundreds of pages of witness testimony reviewed by The Sacramento Bee.
Budget officials turned over regularly at state parks headquarters amid what one called a "hostile work environment," and each seemed powerless to figure out why the mystery money kept piling up.
The department's beleaguered deputy director of administration, Manuel Thomas Lopez, appeared angry and confused about the surpluses, according to staffers' testimony. One year, he ordered a budget manager demoted, saying he simply didn't believe her estimate of a $25 million surplus – even though she later was proved correct.
"When I saw the numbers, I said holy crap," David Saxby, assistant deputy director under Lopez, said in an April 25 interview with a deputy attorney general. He was referring to a budget estimate in the 2009-10 fiscal year.
"There was another big balance, not as big as the year before, but another big balance." The puzzle of the recurring surpluses goes to the heart of a scandal in which state parks was found in July to have hidden $54 million in two park operating funds. For reasons that remain under investigation, the parks department kept the money secret for years by reporting false balances to the state Department of Finance.
For even more insanity see the Sacramento Bee article.