- Associated Press - Friday, October 10, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration reported a $178.5 million budget surplus for the state fiscal year that ended June 30.

But The Advocate reports that legislative financial advisers are questioning the new method used to produce the surplus figure. And state Treasurer John Kennedy said Friday that if the traditional methodology were used, the state figures would show a $141 million deficit (https://bit.ly/1tLR25g).

Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols’ office confirmed Friday that $319 million from prior state fiscal years had been added to last fiscal year’s revenues to produce the surplus.

“A portion of the revenues were not previously included in the (revenue) forecast or the year-end balance calculation,” Nichols said. “Our obligation is to report the year-end balance - all funds available when taking into account actual expenditures.”

Legislative Fiscal Officer John Carpenter said he hasn’t seen sufficient information to determine if that was the correct approach. Carpenter said the actual availability of the cash is the key. “We don’t yet understand how they got there,” he said.

Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera said his office has not seen data on how the administration came up with the surplus number.

Kennedy said the treasurer’s office is trying to figure out what prompted the change and why the old method was wrong.

“The commissioner says the calculation has been inaccurate for years and it needs to be changed,” Kennedy said. “They have to explain why we have been doing it wrong all these years and why the Revenue Estimating Conference is doing it wrong … I’m willing to listen.”

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