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Taxpayer Group: Three Reasons Gov. Ritter's Transparency Order Doesn't Shed Light on Denver

by Pete Sepp / /

(Alexandria, VA) -- Taxpayers in Colorado deserve to see where their hard-earned dollars are going, but the executive order signed by Gov. Bill Ritter (D) today would hardly achieve that, according to the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU), which has more than 7,300 members in Colorado. NTU State Government Affairs Manager Josh Culling highlighted the three main reasons taxpayers should oppose the Governor's order and instead embrace stronger legislation that has been introduced by Rep. B.J. Nikkel (R):

1. It has no teeth. This executive order leaves the door wide open for agencies to exclude certain types of spending from the database. "Where access to each individual transaction is likely to hinder, rather than foster, this goal [of expanding transparency and accountability], the system may provide access to aggregated information," the order states. Access to detailed information about individual government expenditures is the entire point of spending transparency, and this clause leaves a gaping loophole for government agencies who want to stay short on the specifics.

2. It is a political move. The Governor's timing on this is very suspect. Tomorrow, the House Appropriations Committee was set to hear HB 1288, a stronger legislative version of this order. In order to try to kill that bill and take credit for bringing transparency to Colorado, Gov. Ritter rushed to hold a press conference today to pre-empt HB 1288. He wants credit politically, regardless of the actual usefulness of the executive order.

3. It is easily tampered with. Executive orders are subject to the whims of present and future governors. If Ritter or his successor decides to eliminate a transparency database implemented by executive order, nothing stands in his or her way. Transparency databases created by legislation, on the other hand, are codified in statute and are more difficult to undermine.

"Simply put, taxpayers are not much better off under Gov. Ritter's executive order," Culling concluded. "Lawmakers in Denver should circumvent this order by creating a stronger, more binding transparency database. Rep. BJ Nikkel's HB 1288 would do just that."

NTU is a nonpartisan, nonprofit citizen organization founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes, limited government, and economic freedom at all levels. Note: For more information, visit www.ntu.org.

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