Taxpayers Deserve A Transparent Government

Did you know the Wolf administration is in the process of negotiating contracts with some of the governor’s biggest campaign contributors? It’s true.

Government unions gave more than $2.6 million to Tom Wolf‘s gubernatorial campaign. Those same government unions will be sitting across the bargaining table from Gov. Wolf’s representatives to hammer out new state contracts worth billions of dollars. In essence, Pennsylvania’s government unions helped elect their own boss. This political privilege is the product of the collective bargaining process

Given the unique nature of the collective bargaining process—a process that involves public officials negotiating over taxpayer funds with their political allies—transparency is a must. That is why Senator Aument’s legislation to open up the collective bargaining process to the public should be a reform supported by Pennsylvanians of all ideological stripes.

If taxpayers are required to pay for state contracts that necessitate raising taxes, why shouldn’t they have the ability to attend negotiations that will directly affect their bank accounts?  This is a commonsense proposal that would finally end the puzzling practice of holding contract negotiations in secret—negotiations that have vast implications for millions of people.

In the spirit of transparency, Representative Fred Keller has also introduced legislation that would require the posting of school district collective bargaining agreements online before a ratification vote takes place. This would give taxpayers—the major stakeholders in contract negotiations—the ability to weigh in on negotiations if they feel a deal is unfair.

Both of these reforms are worthwhile and would be in line with Gov. Wolf’s promise to make government more transparent. In fact, during the campaign, Gov. Wolf’s “Fresh Start” plan included this line: “…smarter management and more transparency and information on how state tax dollars are spent will ensure this revenue is stretched further.”

Gov. Wolf couldn’t have made a better case for finally ending the secrecy surrounding the collective bargaining process.