Spending Transparency on the Fast Track in PA

Yesterday, Rep. Christiana’s PennWATCH proposal passed the House State Government Committee along with a number of reform measures designed to bring more transparency to state spending. The legislation (HB 15) is scheduled for a House floor vote as early as Wednesday. The legislation would require state spending to be posted online via a free user friendly database.

Democrats will offer an amendment to expand the scope of the database (subscription required).  

Among other changes, it would require the inclusion of state tax credit programs, the salaries paid to agency employees, investments of public funds, and the past performance of similar expenditures.

According to Americans for Tax Reform, 31 states have already established spending databases. Texas has already identified $8.7 million in savings thanks to their spending database. Apart from the potential savings, taxpayers deserve to know how their money is being spent. And creating a database is a fairly inexpensive endeavor, one that many states have accomplished by existing resources.

PennWATCH was introduced last year, but a similar proposal by Rep. Mirabito passed the House instead. Meanwhile, the Senate passed Sen. Browne’s bill, SB 105, but the two chambers were unable to work together to send a bill to the Governor. Like PennWATCH, SB 105 has been reintroduced this year with significant support. Let’s hope this time around the Senate and the House can cooperate to bring more accountability to state spending.