Topeka – Thousands of state lawmakers from across the country recently attended the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) held this year in Boston , MA . The annual meeting provides lawmakers the opportunity to study and discuss the many topics and issues facing their states.
Among the many sessions held, they heard from a panel on transparency in state government. Kansas House Representative Kasha Kelley ( R-Arkansas City ) served on the panel and shared her experience in getting transparency legislation passed during the 2007 Legislative Session. Kansas was the first state to pass such a measure, and Rep. Kelley’s bill has been touted as the best model legislation currently available.
“Taxpayers across the country have the right to know how every tax dollar is spent,” Rep. Kelley said. “Efforts to provide transparency in government are designed to make that information available to everyone. I am proud that Kansas was the first state to commit to making the budget easily searchable.
Transparency in spending will encourage competition for funding, force improvement in how those dollars are spent and clarifies for citizens how their governments serve them.”
Rep. Kelley sponsored House Bill 2457, the Kansas Taxpayer Transparency Act, this last session. The legislation was included in its entirety in Senate Bill 357, the Omnibus Appropriations Bill, which became law on July 1, 2007. The act requires the Secretary of Administration develop and operate a single, searchable website accessible by the public at no cost to access. The website, which will be up and running by March 1, 2008, will include information about state expenditures, revenues, and bond indebtness.
“I am pleased Rep. Kelley stepped forward to lead efforts both in Kansas and on the national level to make government spending more transparent,” Speaker Melvin Neufeld (R-Ingalls) said. “Her work will help Kansas and other states become more accountable to the people.”
State Representative David Steil (R-Bucks, PA); State Senator Randy Brogdon ( R-Owasso, OK);
John O'Brien, Director of the Texas Legislative Budget Board; and Bob Williams, President of Evergreen Freedom Foundation also participated on the panel.
NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.