Leader Blues

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

EDITORIALS>>State should audit projects

The Arkansas Supreme Court could not have made it clearer last week that when the state Constitution prohibits the legislature from enacting local and special laws it really means it.

Presumably the attorney general will explain to the lawmakers when they gather next month that the opinion means that they should not pass even one local appropriation. Last year they numbered about 2,000. But the legislature has still another obligation. It should determine exactly how all those appropriations were spent.

The state sends a warrant to a local entity for the amount that the legislator designated in the local act, and that typically is the last heard of it. Was the clubhouse actually built, were the lights and curbs actually installed? Who ultimately got the money?

That is a proper job for legislative auditors, who regularly audit the books of all state agencies. The auditors should follow the money even when it escapes into the hands of private and nonprofit groups.

Lawmakers might want to know what actually became of their beneficence with taxpayer dollars. We’re quite sure the taxpayers do.