Eugene DePasquale

The state’s fiscal watchdog issued another growl about the state’s absentee spending plan on Tuesday.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, a Democrat, said routine audits of school districts, starting now, will also consider the ramifications of the state budget impasse – like schools’ borrowing costs.

Finishing audits of all 500 school districts will take years, he said, so there's no exact estimate for statewide school costs to schools. That's why DePasquale said he’s putting negotiators on notice now. 

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced the results of a five month investigation into the Department of Labor and Industry (DLI)’s enforcement of Act 102, a 2008 law to limit excessive overtime work for health care professionals.

According to DePasquale, the department failed to implement the law quickly and effectively. He called Labor and Industry “negligent” for its failure to respond to health care workers’ complaints and develop regulations in a timely manner.

About 325 thousand older Pennsylvanians receive state subsidized prescriptions under the PACE and PACEnet pharmaceutical assistance programs. 

State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has begun a performance audit of the $400-million-a-year programs.

“Since so many older people depend on these programs, we want to make sure that they are being operated as efficiently and effectively as possible to ensure that the prescription benefits will be available in the future to those who need it,” he said.

A report by the state’s auditor general finds that some counties are losing hundreds of millions of dollars from organizations defined as charities and are therefore exempt from property taxes.

It appears the tensions have subsided, at least for the moment, between the state Department of Education and the commonwealth’s fiscal watchdog.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale blasted the agency earlier this month for being uncooperative with a performance review.

But he said more recently that the department has begun sending timely responses – beginning with one that was due last Tuesday.

“For the first time in the history of our audit of the Department of Education they met a deadline of supplying information,” said DePasquale.

The state’s top fiscal watchdog says job-creation programs need more accountability to ensure taxpayers are getting the best bang for their buck.

An audit covering 2007 through 2010, before the Corbett administration was in place, found squishy jobs figures among businesses that received nearly $213 million in grants and loans.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said that while nearly 97 percent of promised jobs were delivered by all the state-assisted businesses, the count relies on affidavits from the participating companies, not their actual payroll records.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Mayor Bill Peduto said that for too long the city has had a "Kennywood approach" to pensions — with ups and downs and warnings and signals about their viability and effect on city budget.

In an effort to ensure the pension plans for police, firefighters and municipal employees do not become a financial liability, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has launched an audit of those plans. Peduto joined the auditor general for the announcement, saying it’s time to dig deep into Pittsburgh’s numbers.

The state’s top fiscal watchdog says an ongoing audit of the state Department of Education will now also look into certain employees, including Ron Tomalis, the former secretary and special advisor to the governor who resigned under a cloud of criticism this past August.

Democratic Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said the in-progress audit will review special advisors, contractors and short-term employees.

“It’s not just about Mr. Tomalis,” DePasquale said. “It’s an issue broadly about are people being hired and they don’t have an actual role to play?”

Pennsylvania’s general fund is empty – so it’s borrowing money from itself.

With operating funds at a 10-year low, Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration has asked Treasurer Rob McCord to loan money to the commonwealth’s main bank account.

“The good news is that we have a credit line, the credit line is working, the credit line is allowing people to get paid, schools to get their revenue, etc., and government is functioning, and we have an elegant financial solution and financial instrument,” McCord said.

After an 18-month audit, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has been called “outdated, understaffed and underfunded” when it comes to monitoring the impact of Marcellus Shale drilling on water quality. 

“For an analogy internally we believe it’s like firefighters trying to put out a five-alarm fire with a 20-foot garden hose,” said Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.

The audit resulted in eight findings with 29 recommendations. DePasquale said 18 of the recommendations would not cost tax payers any more money.

From the creation of Pennsylvania’s charter school law in 1997 to today there has been greater public school choice in the state, and many charter schools are doing a good job. That’s one of the positives noted in PA Auditor General Eugene DePasquale’s audit of charter schools.

But DePasquale said there are still many challenges in the charter school system. His audit recommends increased accountability, transparency and effectiveness of charter schools and includes a recommendation to create an independent statewide charter school oversight board.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The Port Authority of Allegheny County is in a “significantly better place” today than it was in the last audit, according to Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.

The most recent audit covers the period of July 1, 2007 through Dec. 31, 2012. The last audit was completed in 2007 by former Auditor General Jack Wagner. At that time, there were serious concerns with unsustainable pension and healthcare costs.

DePasquale said now, the picture has improved.

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has announced his office will perform audits of five healthcare research programs across the state including, Pittsburgh’s Magee-Women’s Research Institute and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

State Auditor General Eugene Depasquale joined Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto Wednesday to announce recommended reforms addressing the $6.7 billion of underfunded municipal pension liabilities in Pennsylvania.

According to Depasquale, 47 percent of municipalities in Pennsylvania are considered distressed when it comes to their ability to fund employee pensions. As a solution to this statewide concern, Depasquale issued 13 recommendations for state legislators to enact.

How can charter schools better help Pennsylvania students succeed? That is the question Auditor General Eugene DePasquale is asking.

At an information gathering session in Ross Township, DePasquale said they want to strengthen the accountability and transparency of the charter school system.

“Our goal in the hearings over the next three weeks is to provide really the best practices and also good points to the Pennsylvania General Assembly so they can take that, incorporate that, in updating and improving the Pennsylvania Charter School Law,” DePasquale said.

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said at a news conference Monday that he’ll soon begin an audit of the state’s Department of Community and Economic Development.

DePasquale said he’s looking for subsidies and tax breaks for corporations that don’t positively impact middle class job growth. He said the state should eliminate such subsidies and tax credits before touching “one dime” of public employee pension funds.

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale was in Pittsburgh with Mayor Bill Peduto on Monday to announce an upcoming audit of Pittsburgh Public Schools.

DePasquale said the audit is part of a larger statewide effort based on a new three-tiered system that ranks schools based on financial risk.

“We are starting our first wave of high risk audits, and Pittsburgh is our first high risk audit for the Western part of the state,” DePasquale said. “That’s not just because of the size of the city, but simply the financial challenges that the city school district is facing.”

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale is calling on Gov. Tom Corbett and the Legislature to raise the state’s minimum wage from the current $7.25.

“As the state’s fiscal watchdog, I think this would be good for the state budget," DePasquale said. "I believe it would help stimulate the economy and most importantly, it’s just the right thing to do to put money in the pockets of working families who have gone without a raise for far too long."

An audit of the state Department of Public Welfare has found the consolidation of payroll services for home care workers was botched, leading to pay delays for at least 4,000 workers.

State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale says workers were the collateral damage when a contract went to a single payroll provider that was not ready for prime time.

"You gotta have better oversight of the program," he said. "That means there’s got to be real dates, there’s gotta be real timelines, real items to be met."

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale recently audited two struggling Allegheny County school districts and said the findings point to a larger problem in the commonwealth: a lack of funding and ineffective charter school laws.

DePasquale said Duquesne City School District is over the cliff financially and the Sto-Rox School District is teetering on the edge.

PA's Anti-Puppy Mill Law Enforcement Criticized

Jul 16, 2013

Pennsylvania's independently elected fiscal watchdog says the state is doing a poor job enforcing an anti-puppy mill law that's designed to protect buyers and ensure breeders maintain humane practices.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said in an audit released this week that lax leadership and ineffective program administration plagued the Dog Law Enforcement Office.

Pennsylvania’s top fiscal watchdog isn’t sure an offer from state House Republicans to hike his agency’s funding could prevent some of the layoffs planned for mid-June.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said the proposed $2.6 million increase wouldn’t be enough to bring back all 67 people throughout the state who are slated to lose their positions.