Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Transparency urged for state spending

Government spending should be transparent and some legislators are working toward that goal:
When it comes to taxpayer dollars, government should be completely transparent, according to one local legislator.

Legislation working its way through the General Assembly aims to make sure that happens.

Senate Bill 936, patroned by Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel, R-Upperville, Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, R-Fairfax, and others would require the state to build a searchable database of all spending in a "format designed to encourage the greatest amount of use by the general public."
Even the blogs are getting in on it:
The object is to "take Virginia's budget and really open it up wide, so people can see where the money is going," said Norm Leahy, a spokesman for Tertium Quids, a nonpartisan, small-government group that has endorsed the legislation.
An example of how difficult it could be to acquire information from the government was proven when Del. Ben Cline, who represents the southern end of Augusta County, tried to find information about the lottery.
Del. Ben Cline, R-Amherst, a sponsor of the House version of the bill, wanted to find out how much the state paid for the rights to use game show "Deal or No Deal" for a scratch-off lottery ticket.

In the end, it took a Freedom of Information Act request and enlisting the help of The Washington Post to get the answer -- $800,000, he said.

"If they have that much problem, imagine what average schmoes like you and me have to go through," Leahy said.
Transparency in government ... it's a good thing.

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