COLUMBIA, Mo. – State Auditor Nicole Galloway stopped by the Columbia Chamber of Commerce Tuesday to discuss the tasks her office has undertaken in the past legislative session. Galloway spoke to the group as part of the organization’s “Lunch with a Leader” series, which has featured House Speaker Todd Richardson and University of Missouri System President Mun Choi in the recent past.
For Galloway, it was something of a homecoming. Before attaining the role of state auditor just after former State Auditor Tom Schweich’s death, she served as the treasurer of Boone County and worked in the private sector in Columbia as well.
Much of Galloway’s presentation was made up of answering questions from the audience, many of them local business owners. She mainly focused some of the work she has begun in the last few months, namely her Budget Integrity Series, which she started in March.
“I came from the private sector as you know, and so I understand we need a good business climate here to grow jobs,” she said. “But we need to independently measure how well we’ve done that through the goals of the legislature on independent policy making, tax policy and the budget.
The Budget Integrity Series is designed to examine the root causes of Missouri’s current fiscal woes and how to address those problems in the future.
“While we have a balanced budget requirement, it doesn’t really work on paper. There are withholdings that happen year after year, and it’s really hard to budget crises to crises,” Galloway said. “We’re auditing a lot of different aspects of the budget, the revenue that’s coming in and the spending that’s impacting the budget hole.”
Some of the problems of course come with a government that has spent too much money, but she says it also comes from incorrect fiscal notes on legislation on top of revenue estimates that differ from and often exceed actual revenues.
“We want policymakers to have the best information they can when they make decisions with our tax dollars,” Galloway said. “Adding integrity to our budget process is a goal that we have.”
In addition to her efforts on the Budget Integrity Series, Galloway went into detail about the work her office has done in uncovering major abuse of the state’s current transportation development district (TDD) law. She found roughly $1 billion in outstanding project costs that Missouri citizens were on the hook for, despite not voting for increases in sales taxes near these micro political subdivisions.
Galloway asked the General Assembly for legislative changes in April, but acknowledged it was likely “unrealistic” to expect a “broad fix” for such a large problem.