(Alexandria, VA) -- A directive that will open up state government spending to the public through the Internet has given Kansas the lead in the grassroots "Google Government" movement, according to the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU), one of the founding members of the "Show Me the Spending" coalition. The 19-group organization (at www.showmethespending.org) was formed earlier this year to advocate for searchable online spending databases in every state. NTU has over 4,500 members in Kansas.
A provision in a budget bill that Governor Kathleen Sebelius recently signed creates within the Financial Management System a publicly available website containing data on state government spending. This site will allow taxpayers to log on, browse, and make their own evaluations of Kansas' budget priorities online. Over time, historical data will become available.
"Thanks to the Sunflower State, a new nonpartisan reform effort has begun to bloom," said Andrew Moylan, NTU's Government Affairs Manager. "Good tools for public scrutiny can in turn build a good basis for public policy."
The Kansas plan is modeled after last year's legislation on the federal level to build a grant and contract database. The bill, cosponsored by Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Barack Obama (D-IL), ordered the U.S. Office of Management and Budget to construct an Internet destination for the general public to track the flow of federal grant and contract disbursements.
However, the Kansas website will include data on all state government expenditures, not just contracts and grants. Though some states have limited disclosure, Kansas is the first to create the type of cohesive, comprehensive database that will be the most useful to citizens. Others that may soon follow are Oklahoma, Minnesota, and Texas, to name a few.
NTU is one of several organizations to have recently launched the "Show Me the Spending" coalition, which is dedicated to passing similar legislation in all 50 states. The coalition, located at www.showmethespending.org, has state-by-state legislative updates, model bill language, and further research and commentary on the issue.
"That's one state down and 49 to go," Moylan concluded. "Every state in the country ought to pass similar plans because accountable government is not a left or right issue, it's a right or wrong issue. The citizens who pay government's bills deserve to know where their money is going, in order to have an informed debate about where it should head in the future."