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Lawmakers Look into Budget Error

Rosalind Helderman

The Senate's Budget and Taxation Committee held a hearing this afternoon on a data error by state workers that resulted in Montgomery County schools being shorted $24 million in state aide, while 17 other counties were overpaid by $31 million.

There was little news to come out of the hearing, where state officials offered the same explanation for how the error occurred as they have said in interviews.

Lawmakers were most interested in figuring out how similar errors could be prevented in the future. They noted that many people were surprised by the erroneous figure--an estimate of property wealth in Montgomery that showed the county to be far wealthier than any one had anticipated. And yet, even though the figure looked odd, state officials pressed ahead with it for months, plugging it into various funding formulas with far reaching impact.

"When something comes along that is very different than what was anticipated, it gives pause, and you'd think you would go back and triple check it," said Sen. Rona E. Kramer (D-Montgomery).

SDAT Director C. John Sullivan Jr. explained that in response to the change, state workers will now more thoroughly examine data that comes in a certain percentage beyond previous projections.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  January 21, 2009; 4:53 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly , Rosalind Helderman  
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