New Mexico’s new state auditor, Tim Keller, has identified more than $4.5 billion of unspent funds spread across more than 700 state bank accounts, his office announced this week.
A public report, “Money on the Sidelines,” tracked all of the unspent money left in bank accounts spread across the state’s multitude of agency and permanent fund accounts. “Some fund balances serve a similar purpose within an agency for a specific project or a specific governmental function, while other fund balances represent money that could be spent on non-specified projects or functions,” Keller says in the report.
Approximately half of the money appears to be allocated for capital infrastructure (such as roads, buildings and water projects).
$4.5 billion of unspent public dollars in the State of New Mexico were spread across 737 different accounts throughout state agencies and affiliated entities, excluding fiduciary funds (permanent and pension funds).
Of the $4.5 billion in unspent dollars, almost $2 billion resided in unspent capital infrastructure funds, including approximately $1.2 billion in incomplete capital outlay projects and $1 billion in infrastructure funds for road and water projects primarily in the New Mexico Finance Authority and the Environment Department.
$738 million was unspent for water projects in various state agencies’ funds.
$503 million was unspent restricted special revenue spread across more than 260 different funds ranging from the Job Training Incentive Program (JTIP) to Medicaid fund surpluses.
$42 million was unspent for education projects within funds at the Public Education Department and the Public School Facilities Authority.
Approximately $30 million was in unspent assigned and unassigned balances in state agencies’ operational general funds.
Each year, the governor and state legislators divide up available capital outlay funds and direct them to local or regional projects. Many of those are matching projects, meaning the state agrees to provide X dollars if a local or federal agency provides Y. It appears that as much as $1.2B in state capital outlay funds remain unspent in accounts, with at least some of those languishing for years.
Keller also noted which agencies maintain the largest unspent fund balances:
STATE AGENCIES WITH LARGEST UNSPENT FUND BALANCES When fiduciary funds are excluded, state agencies’ FY14 fund balances totaled $4.7 billion. The top 10 state agencies with the largest FY14 fund balances included:
1. Department of Finance and Administration, $1.2 billion, primarily in the Board of Finance bond fund and the local DWI grant program fund.
2. Environment Department, $628.9 million, with the largest balances in the clean water state revolving fund, wastewater facility construction loan fund, rural infrastructure revolving loan fund, corrective action fund, air quality fund, and the water conservation fund.
3. New Mexico Finance Authority, $458.5 million, with the largest balances in the public project revolving fund, drinking water state revolving loan fund, and the water trust board.
4. Department of Transportation, $398.6 million, primarily in the state road fund, local government road fund, bond funds, aviation fund, and capital projects fund.
5. New Mexico Mortgage Authority, $241.4 million, with the largest balances in the housing opportunity fund, single family mortgage program bond fund, and land title trust and housing trust fund.
6. Office of the State Treasurer, $221 million, with the severance tax and general obligation bond funds representing the largest amount, and $9 million in a general unassigned fund.
7. Department of Workforce Solutions, $139 million, with most funds in the unemployment insurance trust enterprise fund and the employment security department fund (penalty and interest fund).
8. Department of Information Technology, $71.7 million, with most funds in the severance tax bonds capital outlay fund, equipment replacement fund, and program support fund.
9. Office of the State Engineer, $67.7 million, with the largest amount of funds in the unit fund and irrigation works construction fund.
10. Department of Game and Fish, $61 million, with the largest balances in the general restricted fund and the capital projects fund.
While Keller declines to to suggest ways the state could use this unspent money, the opportunity won’t be lost on legislators and agency administrators anxious to plug program budget gaps or fund new job growth across the state.
Read the full report here: