Sunlight Weekly Round-up: Connecticut reveals state expenditures in new website

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The U.S. Public Interest Research Group released a score card that gave Connecticut an F in spending transparency. The score card based its ranking on the state’s Checkbook-level website which contained vendor’s estimates of goods and services, but not actual payments they received.  A look at the implementation of their Economic Development Incentives and Grants program, showed that there was detailed information on recipient-specific grants that allowed a visitor to determine the purpose of the specific expenditure, but there was no information that allows a visitor to determine the purpose of the program or information on economic development incentives. It is therefore noteworthy that Connecticut took the research group’s advice and created a website to show how they are using the tax payers’ money.

  • An official website with down-loadable data containing Connecticut’s spending has been launched. TransparencyCT.gov shows total expenditures by account, fund and line item for each fiscal year. Last year, the state’s then Governor, Jodi Rell, signed legislation that would enable the creation of a searchable state budget database. A year later, Brian Lockhart writes that now the remaining challenge is to meet the deadlines for submitting data for this website. For more, check out Political Capitol.

  • Concerned lawmakers are planning to introduce legislation that will cut down on the secrecy in Ohio’s government. Sparked by the blatant disregard of public meetings laws and lobbyists who are now writing legislative language, the lawmakers are drafting HB 113 and HB 294 which will respectively, give taxpayers a right to know and specify any form of communication between lobbyists and legislators, as a meeting.  However,Trent Dougherty is proposing a more definitive solution — which is to create a Statehouse Accountability and Public Empowerment Act. Read on about the Act which could provide for more openness through the use of technology on Ohio Environmental Law Center.
  • Wisconsin has introduced a proposal that could amend their constitution and open meetings law. The proposal will close a loophole that currently allows legislators to violate open meetings laws by not providing (enough) public notice of a meeting. Created by House Rep. Jon Richards and Peter BarcaIt, the amendment if approved will also make legislators subject to citations and civil penalties for violating the law. Mark Piper contacted the office of the Assembly Speaker, to find out what he thought about the proposal but he got no response. How is this affecting transparency? Read more as he predicts the states sunshine laws on Love is a Verb.
  • Liberty Leaders — a project of Illinois Policy Institute —  has developed a checklist to help residents in Bureau county, Illinois to access the county’s financial information. The 10 point transparency checklist identifies lobbying, budget and public records  as some of the information a county website should provide. Mark Cavers is showing how citizens can rally for more transparency using the checklist on Liberty Leaders.
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