New State Government Transparency Website Proposed
Bi-Partisan Effort To Show Taxpayers State Revenue & Spending
From State Representative Kim Thatcher
(Salem) Everything you ever wanted to know about state taxes and spending could soon be one click away under a measure introduced today by a bi-partisan group of legislators. State Representatives Arnie Roblan, Jefferson Smith, Kim Thatcher, and Gene Whisnant are co-sponsoring House Bill 2500 to create a comprehensive, free, searchable website for the state budget. HB 2500 is also known as the Open Books Oregon Project.
“We want the website to be user friendly,” said State Representative Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay). “It will also include salary categories for state workers, contracted programs and performance outcomes so we can show the services being provided.”
“Compete budget transparency is vital to keeping government accountable to the people and people engaged in their government,” said State Representative Jefferson Smith (D-Portland). 13 states currently have similar programs and two years ago then-Senator Barack Obama spearheaded an Act of Congress to create a website to track federal spending.
“During a recession, working families and small businesses watch how they spend every nickel and dime, they deserve to know where every one of their tax dollars is going as well,” said State Representative Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer, Newberg, St. Paul) The current all-funds budget is approximately $50 billion and includes some 50,000 state workers.
“Transparency is important because, in the end, there is no such thing as government money, it’s only taxpayer money in government hands,” said State Representative Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver)
“Government transparency and accountability are important at any time, but in this tough economic climate Oregon taxpayers have even more concern about how state government is spending our hard-earned tax dollars,” said Steve Buckstein, Cascade Policy Institute Senior Policy Analyst and Founder. “This legislation will go a long way toward assuring Oregonians that their government is spending their money in appropriate ways.”
Sandra Fabry, Executive Director of the Center for Fiscal Accountability, is thrilled to see lawmakers in Oregon following the lead of other states. “The fact that this bill is sponsored by legislators from both sides of the political aisle is not surprising, and we’re seeing this happen all over the country: Transparency and accountability in government are principles our Founding Fathers held dear, only now with the Internet we have the tools to make them a reality. This is clearly not a left-right issue, it is a right-wrong issue.”