Fiscal analyst retires after 38 years working for the state |

Fiscal analyst retires after 38 years working for the state

Geoff Dornan, Appeal Capitol Bureau

During 38 years as a fiscal analyst, Dan Miles’s job was to keep the numbers down.

He did that job for the transportation department, the budget office, as Senate fiscal analyst for the Legislative Counsel Bureau and finally as vice chancellor for finance and planning at the university system.

As of last Friday, the only number he has to try keep down is the one on his golf card. Miles says just like all those budgets he was paid to cut over the years that number is too big — but he’ll be working on it.

Miles was honored by the Board of Regents on Friday after helping guide their financial programs through two legislative sessions.

But it was the position he left three years ago to take the university job for which most in state government know Miles, 60.

For 20 years, he was Senate fiscal analyst. As chief adviser to the Senate Finance Committee since 1983, his job was to hunt down the waste, the pork, the unnecessary spending in agency budgets. These days, the legislative fiscal staff has about two dozen employees assigned to different parts of the budget. When Miles moved from the budget office to LCB in 1977, he was one of just three people assigned to try make sense out of both taxes and spending plans for the Legislature.

He worked two sessions for the legislative tax committees before becoming Senate fiscal analyst. He stayed until 2000 when he accepted the university system’s offer to help it through what officials knew would be two extremely difficult legislative sessions.

“They had no choice but to look for someone like me who knew the system and had a relationship with the Legislature,” he said.

But it was the first time he had been in a position of trying to increase instead of cut the budget.

“All those years I was trying to figure ways for the Legislature to say no,” he said. “Then I came over here trying to figure ways to get the Legislature to say yes.

“It’s a very different perspective and challenging,” he said.

By all accounts, he did very well for the system. Both in 2001 and 2003, the system received double-digit increases in their total budget — which will total more than $1 billion for the next two years.

Miles was also instrumental in convincing lawmakers to put the estate tax through the general fund instead of directly to the system. That means if the estate tax money goes away — which it will under federal law — the state will have to absorb the loss rather than the university system. The estate tax is worth some $89 million over the next two years.

“I’m personally pleased with the outcome of the legislative session,” he said. “The legislature recognized our enrollment growth and funded it.”

Miles said he plans to take a couple of months off before finding something else to do. His wife Stephanie still works in the real estate business.

Asked whether she will continue working, he said, “I hope so. I’m on a fixed income.”

While he said he is interested in lobbying — possibly for local government — he said he doubts he’ll take another full time job.

There’s that golf game which needs some work — not to mention a 14-month-old granddaughter to play with.

“And I’ve got a long list of home projects that have been put off,” he said. “But the future is wide open for me.”