Policy Documents

How Putting Arkansas’ Budget Online Saves Taxpayers Money

Mattie Corrao –
February 22, 2011

 

Putting fiscal information online has lightened the load of overburdened state budgets. Currently, 36 states host Internet portals that let citizens track state spending. These transparency websites vary in comprehensiveness – some states, like Utah, offer local and school district spending data alongside the state’s checkbook – but all of them provide invaluable tools for combating government profligacy and easing the burden that taxpayers bear.

A variety of public officials have established transparency in their states. Constitutional officers, such as Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, have helped shine light on state finances. Several governors have issued executive orders to create transparency portals; 14 of the 36 states that host portals are the result of gubernatorial mandate. Legislative efforts, creating transparency for generations of taxpayers to come, have been diverse but rewarding for the states that have written disclosure into state law.

The environment in Arkansas, where legislative efforts were inspired by Lieutenant Governor Mark Darr’s campaign pledge to pursue fiscal transparency, bodes well for Natural State taxpayers. Senate Bill 221, sponsored by Senator Jonathan Dismang, passed out of the state Senate last week. The Arkansas Financial Transparency Act will require, and disclose, information from state agencies on a variety of expenditures – including each item’s budget classification, its general ledger code, the date of expenditure, and the vendor to which the outlay was made.