According to California State Controller John Chiang, state agencies' lax attitude toward giving employees interest-free loans and collecting on debt are partially to blame for California's budget issues, the Long-Beach Press Telegram reports. Chiang, who began investigating the loans two years ago, has since issued several audits - one of which found that 11 agencies had more than $13 million in outstanding loans, and most had not taken steps toward debt collection
. He described the practice as "fleecing public coffers at a time when vital public programs are being decimated by unprecedented budget cuts." Governor Jerry Brown is calling for agencies to immediately stop offering interest-free loans and advances, the news source says, and wants them to determine exactly how much money employees owe the state. Unfortunately, the statute of limitations may already have expired on many loans, as employee consent is required to collect money that has been owed for more than three years. California is presently facing a $26.6 billion budget shortfall, which Brown reduced by $14 million through a plan for spending cuts and fund transfers that was approved by the legislature in March.