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A Letter to the Nation's Governors: Ensure Transparency and Accountability by Posting Stimulus Expenditures Online
March 10, 2009
Recently, President Obama signed into law a $787 billion package that supporters claim will stimulate the economy. Unfortunately, the legislation is packed with wasteful spending, most of which will fail to reverse the downturn and will, instead plunge our country further into debt. On behalf of the 362,000 members of the National Taxpayers Union nationwide, I ask you to reject the portion of the stimulus package to be directed toward your state. It is unfair to ask federal taxpayers throughout America to subsidize state governments, and rejecting the bailout would demonstrate your principled and vital resistance to increasing the debt burden on future generations of Americans.
If you do decide to accept this federal largesse, however, it is imperative that you make the process as transparent as possible. The best way to achieve this end is to create a searchable online database of all stimulus monies earmarked for your state, along with the agencies or contractors receiving the funds, and the date and amount of each individual expenditure. Citizens in your state and across the country deserve to know where their hard-earned dollars are going.
The Center for American Progress estimates that 69 percent of the stimulus package will be administered by state governments. That comes to over $541 billion destined for transportation, alternative energy, education, and other projects. With that large price tag comes a phenomenal capacity for waste and inefficiency. Now more than ever it is important that taxpayers be able to see how their money is being spent, giving them the ability to hold government accountable for this massive spending package.
The best course of action would be to refuse the stimulus money outright, as it will increase our nation's long-term debt while doing little to pull the economy out of recession. But in the event that you choose to accept a federal bailout, I implore you and your colleagues to serve as guiding lights of fiscal transparency and accountability in a process that remains shrouded in fog.
*Note: NTU sent individualized letters to each of the nation's 50 Governors.