New Website for State Budget Transparency Gets Final Approval

State Representative Kim Thatcher,

(Salem) Oregonians will soon have a new website to track state spending and revenue under a measure which received final approval in the state legislature this morning. House Bill 2500 is the work of a bi-partisan group of lawmakers including State Representatives Arnie Roblan, Jefferson Smith, Kim Thatcher, and Gene Whisnant. The measure passed unanimously in the Senate on Saturday and was adopted unanimously by the House today. HB 2500 now moves to the Governor’s Desk.

“This bill is our legislative effort to bring transparency to your state government,” said State Representative Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay). “It is very gratifying to create an online website that brings more information to Oregonians at a time when such information is critical. I’m happy to be part of moving Oregon closer to the principles of open government.”

“This is the best budget bill we’ve passed all year!” exclaimed State Representative Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer, Newberg, St. Paul). “We were able to use existing staff and resources to build the new site and will soon be able to show Oregonians where their tax dollars are allocated.”

State Representative Jefferson Smith (D-Portland) pointed out, “in a session where we have worked hard to balance a historically challenging budget, it makes even more sense also to take landmark steps to provide more information about that budget.”

“I might be biased but this is the best accountability bill we have passed for Oregon citizens in all my sessions in the legislature,” stated State Representative Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver). “I am proud to be a Chief Sponsor of this important bill.”

The initial website will contain basic information about agency spending and revenue with links to audit and program information. The website should be up by the end of the year. A special committee will work in the years ahead on making the website searchable and connecting expenditures to services and outcomes, as well as other features.

“HB 2500 launches Oregon into Google Government, and making taxpayer spending truly transparent to Oregonians,” said Dave Rosenfeld, OSPIRG Executive Director. Nearly two dozen other states have similar websites.

“I’m delighted the Legislature, on a bi-partisan basis, approved HB 2500,” said Steve Buckstein, Cascade Policy Institute Senior Analyst and founder. “Government transparency is important at any time, but it’s especially important in this tough economic climate. Oregonians deserve to know how state government is spending our hard-earned tax dollars, and now that will be easier than ever.”

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Posted by at 04:55 | Posted in Measure 37 | 25 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Joe

    What difference will any of this make?

    • JimRay

      None at all. “Transparency” is in the eye of the beholder; or in this case, the editor of this new website.
      IOW, ooooops! Some items (bills) were “inadvertently” missed.

      Mark my words, this is a joke.

  • Steve Buckstein

    We can all be cynical about whether a transparency website will make any difference. But it will make it easier to find real information about state budgets. Here are the minimum requirements the bill places on every state agency:

    The website shall contain information about each state agency, including but not limited to:
    (a) Annual state agency revenues;
    (b) Annual state agency expenditures;
    (c) Annual state agency human resources expenses, including compensation;
    (d) Annual state agency tax expenditures, including, where possible, the identity of the recipients of each tax expenditure;
    (e) State agency contracting and subcontracting information, to the extent allowed by law;
    (f) A prominently placed graphic representation of the primary funding categories and
    approximate number of individuals served by the state agency;
    (g) A description of the mission, function and program categories of the state agency;
    (h) Information about the state agency from the Oregon Progress Board; and
    (i) A copy of any audit report issued by the Secretary of State for the state agency.

    • JimRay

      Ever heard of an agency hiding/gaming information? C’mon Steve, you are much too intelligent to fall for a stunt like this.

      • Steve Buckstein

        JimRay, of course it won’t be perfect. But it is a good start. Otherwise much state budget data would remain virtually unfindable by most Oregonians. And, there will be lots of eyeballs watching how the site rolls out, so I remain optimistic.

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