California Agencies Fail to Submit Timely Financial Data

With Californians about to enter their second year of restricted economic activity, and with all the resulting financial anxiety and hardship, it’s unfortunate that accurate and timely financial information isn’t available for the vast public sector. While public sector budgets and projections abound, actual audited financial data for recently completed fiscal years is subject to unnecessary months, if not years, of delay.

One of the few areas of excellence in California’s vast public sector bureaucracies is its public pay database. Initiated under former California State Controller John Chiang and continued by Betty Yee who replaced Chiang in 2015, this “Government Compensation in California” website offers an unvarnished and detailed look into how much we pay our public servants. That’s a look worth having, especially for 2020, a year that saw private sector workers and small business owners watch their income and wealth slip away. But don’t hold your breath.

The raw data the state controller makes available can be sorted by agency, it includes a record for every full or part-time state or local public employee, and for each record there is considerable detail, including base pay, overtime pay, “other” pay, deferred pay, health insurance, pension fund contributions, and more. To be sure, the data isn’t perfectly consistent or complete. Pension fund contributions may or may not include the payments to reduce the unfunded liability, despite the fact that the unfunded pension payment is now usually twice as much, or more, than the so-called normal pension contribution. The […] Read More

Why Can’t Sacramento’s Financial Reporting Match Private Sector Standards?

If you want current financial information on California’s state government, you won’t find it. The most recent consolidated annual financial report for California’s state agencies is for the fiscal year ended 6/30/2018. That’s over two years, or nine quarters ago.

To put this in perspective, America’s publicly traded multinational corporations, with operations spread all over the globe, are required to submit to the IRS detailed 10K reports within 90 days of filing their tax returns, which in-turn are due “the 15th day of the fourth month following the close of the fiscal year.”

This means that Walmart, with $514 billion in revenue, or ExxonMobil, with $290 billion in revenue, along with dozens of other mega corporations, have at most 195 days, or just over six months, to pull together and submit a comprehensive financial report on their operations.

In reality, corporations rarely need 195 days. Walmart released its annual report for their fiscal year ended 1/31/2020 on 4/23/2020, eighty four days later. ExxonMobil’s most recent fiscal year ended 12/31/19, and their 2019 annual report was issued prior to their annual meeting of shareholders on 5/27/2020, 148 days later.

So why is it that the State of California, where “the expenses of the primary government totaled $300.7 billion for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2018,” still cannot convey similar information for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2019? Corporations of comparable size do it in 195 days or less. As of […] Read More