A Big Step Forward in Budget Transparency

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine has improved the presentation of the FY 2009-2010 budget, making it easier for members of the public to analyze. The old format scattered information for (1) expenditures, (2) number of employee positions and (3) capital outlays. The new format combines them on a single web page. You can view any secretariat, or any department within a secretariat, and see any of the three budget categories with a simple click of a tab.

Budget pages also link to departmental strategic plans and performance measures. Check out the presentation here. Drill deep and muck around. It’s a tremendous step in the right direction.

Another step in the right direction would be to adopt a proposal championed by Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, R-Fairfax, which was inspired by the federal government’s http://www.usaspending.gov/. The federal website details information about grants and contracts valued at more than $25,000. For example, you can discover that Virginians received $40 billion in federal contracts in fiscal 2006 for everything from telecommunications services to aircraft carriers.

Wrote Cuccinelli in a recent press release:

As part of my effort to make our Commonwealth the most efficiently managed state in the nation, I am introducing legislation this year to create a Virginia counterpart to USASpending.gov. My goal is to give ordinary citizens more opportunities for input into our government by allowing all of us to evaluate where – and how effectively – our tax dollars are being spent. My Virginia budget transparency initiative will bring to our budgeting process a simple tool for the owners of this government – the citizens of Virginia – to determine for themselves where their money is being spent. We require such openness of public companies, why not our own government?

I’d like to see the specifics of what the website would do, but in the abstract the proposal is an excellent one. Budget transparency should be a top goal of open government. Bloggers of all ideological stripes should support this bill!

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6 responses to “A Big Step Forward in Budget Transparency”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    It’s a step in the right direction. Now how about a little more transparency in how voters WANT to have their money spent?


  2. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    sure nuff…

    Chesterfield gets $4380 per capital in school aid


    Fairfax gets $1932.

    I wonder how much Fairfax and Chesterfield generate for the 1%f of the sales tax that is collected for schools?

    Fairfax would be better off keeping their 1% and NOT getting state “aid” right?

    Reminds me of my Catholic School Days. On “Candy Bar day”, we were supposed to bring in a candy bar and in the morning the nuns would collect them.

    In the afternoon, after lunch, the nuns would circulate with trays of candy bars – for sale!

    cool concept. ๐Ÿ™‚

    but let’s get back on message.

    Is Kaine… better or worse than Gilmore was?

    come on .. fess up you R’s…

    If you could trade Gilmore for Kaine – would you?

    would NoVa?

    inquiring minds (no matter how puny) would like to know…

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    How about Gilmore versus Warner? A compelling argument can be made that Gilmore was better for NoVA and Warner was better for RoVA, yet I’ll bet you Gilmore has a stronger base in RoVA and Warner a stronger base in NoVA. People often vote against their own best economic interests.

    NoVA funds all of VA. Fairfax County alone pays more than 25% of the personal income tax that is the big source of the General Fund. Car tax relief came from the General Fund. (It did not, does not, and will not come from the Transportation Fund, despite statements to the contrary from the MSM and sleazy lobbyists.)

    Car tax relief reduces the size of the General Fund by sending proportionately more money back to NoVA where much of it is generated. Likewise, car tax relief leaves fewer General Fund dollars to be distributed to RoVA. If this were the only factor, one would expect Gilmore to be most popular in NoVA, which he helped, and less popular in RoVA, which he did not help.

    Similarly, Warner’s tax increase gouged NoVA (e.g., more than 25% of the senior citizen tax increase was paid by Fairfax County residents; Fairfax County residents were the biggest recipients of car tax relief, which was limited by the Warner tax plan; Fairfax County residents’ net tax increase has been more than $115 M annually). And Warner’s plan screwed Fairfax County Public Schools, which have not yet received $12 M in new funds. Meanwhile, state aid for education and other programs were generally increased more than taxes for many areas of RoVA.

    If this were the only factor, one would expect RoVA to have higher approval ratings for Warner than for Gilmore and NoVA to be down on Warner.

    But then, who said we are necessarily astute voters regardless of where we live?


  4. How about Cuccinelli for higher office?

    He seems like one of the few bright lights among a lot of dim bulbs down in Richmond.

    Mark Warner = John Edwards with a better haircut.

    Jim Gilmore = GW Bush with a worse haircut.

    It’s time for new leadership in VA.

  5. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Groveton, are you still Down Under? The Aussies seem to have had an effect on you. You have turned into quite the humorist.

  6. Jim:

    I am back from Australia – home of the Transurban Corporation of Fluor – Transurban fame. I’ll be back in Oz in January. Comparing Australia to the US is an interesting mental exercise. What’s the difference between Australia and New York? The Australians like Americans more.

    Not sure about the humor. Must be the lingering effects of jet lag … or of the beer sold in gigantic cans.

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