SACRAMENTO – Today Senator Scott Wilk, R-Antelope Valley, introduced Senate Bill 259 to ensure accountability in our state agencies and prevent those agencies from misleading the people of California and their representatives in the Legislature.
“Cooking the books in order to appear responsible to the people is inexcusable,” said Wilk. “Right now we have a system that essentially rewards dishonesty by looking the other way when bureaucrats purposely fudge the truth.”
In 2015 the Los Angeles Times published an expose claiming the California High-Speed Rail Authority withheld specific documents in a report presented to the Legislature. The documents featured in the story revealed that the Authority had projected two separate cost estimates to complete the first segment of the project. The number presented to the Legislature stated the cost of the system from Merced to Burbank would be $31 billion. However, the private estimate presented four months before the published report stated the costs would be $40 billion, a difference of $9 billion.
“The actions of the Authority violated the public trust in an egregious and deceitful way. This bill will ensure no state agency can submit false or misleading reports without being held accountable for their behavior,” Wilk said. “As a vital part of our state government the people place great trust in our agencies; we must demand they act responsibly and truthfully.”
SB 259 would require a written report submitted to the Legislature by any state agency or department to include a signed statement by the head of that agency or department declaring the factual contents of the written report are true, accurate and complete to the best of his or her knowledge. Any agency head found to have knowingly and willingly presented false or misleading material will be eligible to receive a civil penalty of up to $20,000.
“SB 259 will ensure the head of any state agency or department is held to an expectation of honesty, as they should always have held themselves to but, unfortunately, have not.” Wilk added.