Harrisburg, PA — With Pennsylvania facing a $3 billion General Fund Budget deficit, the Commonwealth Foundation today urged the House to act immediately on spending transparency legislation adopted this week by the Senate with bipartisan support.
Senate Bill 105, authored by Finance Committee Chairman Pat Browne of the Lehigh Valley, establishes an online, detailed database of state spending.
“It’s inexcusable, particularly in our current economic environment, for lawmakers to deny Pennsylvanians the cost-saving tool that taxpayers in 20 other states have to find out how their hard-earned money is being spent by state government,” said Commonwealth Foundation president and CEO Matthew J. Brouillette.
Brouillette noted that Texas Comptroller Susan Combs recently estimated that the Lone Star State’s spending transparency reforms have saved its taxpayers $8.7 million. A recent Mercatus Center study analyzed 10 state databases and found the average cost to be only $140,000 – not the millions cited by opponents of spending transparency.
Currently, it is nearly impossible for rank-and-file lawmakers and the media—much less the average citizen—to find online where and how state tax dollars are being spent. The state Treasury Department’s web site is limited to information on state contracts, and even that is difficult to navigate if a user is not searching for a specific vendor.
“Pennsylvanians need and deserve the savings that will come from knowing exactly how and where their tax dollars are being spent,” Brouillette added. “SB 105 offers citizens the opportunity to be meaningful participants in the budget debate.”
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The Commonwealth Foundation (www.CommonwealthFoundation.org) is an independent, non-profit public policy research and educational institute based in Harrisburg, PA.