Monday, April 11, 2011

We Need Transparency In State Government

Transparency in government is important and necessary. When they spend the people's money, the people need to know where it is going. National security, within reason, is an exception. Representative Ron Paul and Senator Rand Paul have gone after the Federal Reserve to figure out what they have done with our money. There's no reason to hide how it is spent.

Transparency has come up on the state level as well. Delegate Rick Snuffer, a former Republican candidate for Congress, has blasted Acting Governor Tomblin and the State Legislature. State law allows only 1% of the $11.4 billion budget to be unassigned or unclassified. This year's budget leaves nealy a third of the budget unassigned, almost 3,000% above and beyong the specifications of the law.

It would be one thing if the state had to list at some point how the unassigned funds were paid out. Snuffer states that over a billion dollars in some years get paid out without knowledge of the money's destination.

This is an issue where Snuffer should get the backing of Tennant and other Democratic contenders for the office of governor. With a third of the budget unassigned, Tomblin could conceivably steer funds in directions that could benefit his campaign. It leaves a good impression when the governor shows up in person with a few thousand dollars for your town's senior center. I'm not saying he'll do it, but the situation leaves too much temptation.

Snuffer has held off on filing a lawsuit pending a meeting with Tomblin.

Here is a link to the budget votes. You can probably tell that it was almost entirely party line, Democrats in favor and Republicans against. It's obvious that Republicans and some responsible Democrats are continuing to campaign for transparency in government. And we, as taxpayers, always deserve to know.We should congratulate the Legislature for taking some baby steps towards making the state economy more friendly to taxpayers and business. The food tax dropped to 2% and the corporate franchise income tax was lowered as well. These are baby steps though, and fall well short of the drastic reforms needed to make West Virginia business friendly.

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