(Alexandria, VA) -- South Carolina and Nebraska wouldn't seem to have much in common, but both recently became the latest states to join the "Google Government" movement that is allowing taxpayers to see where their money is going. Today the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), a longtime advocate of "spending transparency" in government, offered praise to South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford (R) and Nebraska Treasurer Shane Osborn (R) for developing online disclosure procedures for budgetary transactions. NTU has 362,000 members nationwide, including 4,100 members in South Carolina, and 2,400 members in Nebraska.
Through an executive order, Governor Sanford created a new Web site that will allow the public to freely search many types of state expenditures beginning no later than March 1, 2008. Sanford's order also calls on all cabinet agencies to build their own Web-based databases of internal travel and office supply expenses. Governors in Missouri and Indiana also have created transparency Web sites via executive orders. In addition, Treasurer Osborn has announced construction of a Web site, overseen by his office, which will offer not only state but some local government revenue and expenditure information.
NTU is one of the founders of the "Show Me the Spending" coalition, which is dedicated to implementing similar programs in all 50 states. The 21-group coalition, available online at www.showmethespending.org, has state-by-state legislative updates, model bill language, and further research and commentary on the issue.
"Thanks to Governor Sanford's and Treasurer Osborn's leadership, more accountability for the dollars taxpayers send to Columbia and Lincoln is well underway," said NTU Director of Government Affairs Kristina Rasmussen. "These disclosure tools are helping to build more honest and responsible budgeting."
South Carolina is one of several states to follow the federal government's lead and construct a database that catalogs expenditures. The federal legislation, cosponsored by Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Barack Obama (D-IL), ordered the U.S. Office of Management and Budget to establish an Internet destination for the general public to track the flow of disbursements. Though the voluntary disclosure in South Carolina and Nebraska is both welcome and extremely important, Rasmussen urged both states' Legislatures to make this disclosure a matter of permanent law.
"With the addition of South Carolina and Nebraska, one out of every six states is now giving citizens a much closer look at the fiscal decisions of their governments," Rasmussen concluded. "Our coalition will not rest until every state can make this claim."