House Votes for Increased Budget Openness
(BOSTON) – House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo yesterday joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in passing budget amendments aimed at increasing the openness and accessibility of the budget process.
These amendments – coupled with the online, searchable database of government expenditures established by the FY11 House budget proposal – promise to increase the visibility of state spending.
“Since being elected Speaker, I have worked with the members to make the House of Representatives more open and accessible,” Speaker DeLeo said. “From the institution of term limits on the speakership passed in last year’s rules reform legislation, to the amendments passed in this budget debate, the House has shown an ongoing commitment to openness and accountability.”
“This is a big win for the taxpayers of the Commonwealth! With this provision, Massachusetts will now be on par with the 32 other states that make state budget transparency, accountability, and accessibility an indispensible function of open government,” Representative Jay Kaufman, House Chairman of the Joint Committee on Revenue, said. “Public access to the way we raise and spend money is essential, enabling us to make more-informed decisions for the tax-paying constituents who elect us to serve on their behalf. I am thankful the Speaker, who’s enthusiastic support for a more open and transparent government made this victory possible.”
“Passage of this transparency language would move Massachusetts from a lagging state to a leading state,” said Deirdre Cummings, Legislative Director for MASSPIRG.
“With the passage of this amendment, along with the transparency provisions included in the House budget, Massachusetts citizens will have a powerful new lens with which to view their government in action,” said Pam Wilmot, executive director of the government watchdog group Common Cause Massachusetts. “Check-book level detail of state expenditures, including key tax credits, are critical to an informed citizenry. Kudos to the House for establishing this level of spending transparency.”
According to a recent MASSPIRG study, 32 other states provide on online database with in-depth detail on government expenditures. With the establishment of a searchable, online database in the House FY11 budget proposal, Massachusetts would join these states in terms of accessibility to information on government spending.
The amendments promise to make government expenditures more visible by:
· Requiring the public disclosure of the results of certain tax credit programs.
· Including tax credits within the definition of “state awards” that are posted in the online budget database established by the FY11 House budget proposal.
Last year’s House rules reform required the House Clerk to make all bills introduced and admitted for consideration to the House available to members electronically and post them on the internet. The reform package also requires notice of committee hearings to be posted on the internet.
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