Government transparency is understandably popular. Voters want to know what their governments are doing.
So smart politicians promise us more transparency, more sunshine, more info. But, being politicians, sometimes they don’t deliver. And, when they do, they often spend a whole lot more than necessary.
That’s what is happening in Virginia. Bills to put the state budget online have passed both chambers of the legislature — unanimously.
But politicians estimate that the cost to get the job done will run over $3 million. Wow. That’s a lot. How does that compare with other states?
At the Tertium Quids blog, there’s a letter posted from Ed Martin, chief of staff to former Missouri Governor Matt Blunt. Martin points out that two years ago Blunt created the Missouri Accountability Portal by executive order.
The website is a national model with a searchable database of state expenditures. It’s garnered over 17 million hits from interested citizens. And it cost less than $200,000.
Then there’s Nebraska State Treasurer Shane Osborn. As the Washington Examiner recently reported, he put Nebraska spending online without the legislature passing a law. He just did it.
“I used my staff to compile the data,” Osborn said. “I just viewed it as my job.”
The grand cost of Osborn’s excellent transparency website? Only $38,000.
Sounds like there are millions of reasons for Virginia to learn from others.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.