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Perry Instructs Public Universities to Review Finances

Following the revelation that the University of North Texas has received up to $84 million in excess state funds over roughly the last decade, Gov. Rick Perry has instructed the state's public universities to review their accounting.

Following the recent revelation that the University of North Texas has received up to $84 million in excess state funds over roughly the last decade, Gov. Rick Perry instructed the state's public universities to review their accounting.

Nearly all of the excess state money received by UNT went toward employee benefits for employees who are locally funded. State money can only be used to pay the benefits of employees who are paid with state funds.

The governor's call for a statewide review was first reported by The Dallas Morning News

On May 29, Perry sent a letter to public universities throughout the state encouraging them to ensure that benefits spending was appropriately allocated.

"If the state auditor has not reviewed state benefit practices at your institution within the last three years, please have your internal auditor do so at this time and provide the results to my office," Perry wrote.

"The inappropriate and inaccurate accounting of taxpayer funds by the University of North Texas is inexcusable, and our office is taking steps to determine if other institutions of higher education are using similar methods that could result in the misuse of taxpayer money," Lucy Nashed, a spokeswoman for the governor, said in a statement.

She also made an indirect reference to the conflicts surrounding one of the governor's appointees to the board of regents at the University of Texas System, Wallace Hall, whose personal investigations into operations at the University of Texas at Austin have made him the focus of a legislative committee's investigation. After a months-long investigation, the committee determined that grounds to impeach Hall exist. But Perry has stood by his man, saying that Hall should be commended for his work.

"The results of the UNT audit underscore Gov. Perry’s reminder of the importance of appointees to state agencies and institutions remaining vigilant and proactive in their oversight of state entities to prevent or correct activities that are not in the best interest of Texas," Nashed said.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Texas Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/06/05/perry-instructs-public-universities-review-finance/.

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