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Indiana state government unearths $320 million in unknown tax revenue

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 7:44 AM EST, Sat December 10, 2011
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels:
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels: "As far as I'm concerned, we just drew the community chest card."
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Indiana's state government finds $320 million that it didn't know it had
  • The state cut roughly that amount in K-12 education funding, a Democrat notes
  • Gov. Daniels makes light of the finding, saying, "Christmas came early"
  • Several Democrats have demanded an "independent audit" into what happened

(CNN) -- Indiana's state government has discovered $320 million in funds it didn't know it had, money that officials stumbled across while enacting statewide belt-tightening measures.

"Christmas came early," Gov. Mitch Daniels said.

During a press conference Tuesday, Daniels cited a "programming omission" and modernized tax collection processes for unearthing the $320 million in corporate tax revenue. That money had been accumulating since 2007, but hadn't been accounted for in the state's operating budget.

Instead, this revenue went unnoticed, as the state worked to get its fiscal house in order. The latter effort has included several deep cuts -- including roughly $320 million in state funding for K-12 education, according to state Sen. John Broden.

"We've lost a whole year of educational opportunities for our children because of this misplaced money," Broden, the ranking Democratic member of the state senate's appropriations committee, said in a press release earlier this week.

In an open letter to a state budget committee, Broden and other Democrats requested "an independent audit ... to determine how this significant error occurred and how Indiana citizens can be assured that it will not happen again."

Still, Daniels -- a Republican who served as Office of Management and Budget director under President George W. Bush -- has characterized the discovered money as positive, comparing it a successful move in the classic board game Monopoly.

"As far as I'm concerned, we just drew the community chest card -- collect not $200, but something much more," said Daniels, who has been governor since 2004.

And Jane Jankowski, a spokeswoman for the governor, said she does not believe the inquiry called for by Broden and others is necessary.

"We know what happened. We know what the problem was and we're correcting it," she said Thursday.

CNN's Khara Lewin contributed to this report.

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