Wilk bill would push agency accountability

Sen. Scott Wilk

State Sen. Scott Wilk calls it the “Pinocchio bill.”

Introduced by the Santa Clarita Republican this week, Senate Bill 259 looks to ensure accountability in state agencies — and would slap fines on any agency head who misleads citizens or the Legislature in reports or financial matters.

“Cooking the books in order to appear responsible to the people is inexcusable,” Wilk said in a statement.

“Right now, we have a system that essentially rewards dishonesty by looking the other way when bureaucrats purposely fudge the truth.”

Wilk’s office pointed to a 2015 the Los Angeles Times report claiming the California High-Speed Rail Authority withheld specific documents in a report presented to the Legislature.

The documents showed 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,’’ Wilk’s release said.

“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,’’ Wilk himself said in the statement. “This bill will ensure no state agency can submit false or misleading reports without being held accountable for their behavior.’’

SB 259 would require that a written report submitted to the Legislature by any state agency or department must 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.

Agency heads found to have “knowingly and willingly” made false or misleading material would face civil fines of up to $20,000.

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