State Auditor Rob Sand on Tuesday visited Williamsburg, Cedar Rapids, and Vinton as part of his annual 100-town hall tour, his fifth since taking office in 2019.
Auditor Sand took questions from Iowans on various topics, including Senate File 478. The bill would, in many instances, eliminate checks and balances by limiting the Auditor's access to the courts.
"This is the single most pro-corruption bill in Iowa history," said Sand during a stop in Williamsburg. "It lets insiders protect insiders and limits the ability of the taxpayers' watchdog to obtain information necessary to uncover waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars."
A group of bipartisan accounting and oversight professionals is also on the record opposing Senate File 478. Their concerns include the threat to the Auditor's ability to independently oversee the use of federal funds coming into Iowa.
Auditor Sand also discussed the new school voucher system that takes money away from public schools to pay for private school tuition. Sand pointed out the new law allows private schools to do anything they want with the tax dollars they receive from the state-except provide a refund.
"If they want to take a European vacation with your tax dollars after they are paid as tuition, it's totally legal-no requirement the money be spent on actual education, Sand said during a town hall meeting. "Public schools have public records, public meetings, and an annual audit," Sand said, noting the lack of transparency for private schools under the new law. "None of which will apply to private schools-even for the parents of the kids who go there."
Sand discussed his decision to vote against using $2 million from the taxpayers' general fund to pay for half of the fourth discrimination settlement at University of Iowa Athletics under Gary Barta.
"He should be out of a job-instead, that was his fourth strike and he's still standing at the plate," said Sand. The University of Iowa Athletics case was the fourth settlement Sand has voted against based on a lack of personal accountability for those involved.
"We can't keep giving bad employees total bailouts for bad behavior," Sand said. "They should have real accountability by paying the costs themselves when that legal standard is met, or by losing their jobs."
Sand also touted his Public Innovations and Efficiencies (PIE) program. It encourages local governments and school districts to come up with creative ways to save tax dollars. PIE has been so successful, Democratic and Republican auditors in other states are copying it.
"It helps our office to hear from Iowans and helps Iowans to hear from someone
who is willing to go after insiders' corruption and waste in Iowa's governments,"
said Auditor Sand in response to the town hall meetings across the state. "I'm
proud to continue that work in all of Iowa's 99 counties."
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