New law to disclose state funding praised
The National Taxpayers Union yesterday praised state legislators for creating a new law that will make it easier to determine who benefits from taxpayer money by disclosing on a searchable Web page the entities and organizations that receive $25,000 or more in state funds.
Hawai'i's House Bill 122, modeled after federal legislation enacted last year, became law Thursday without Gov. Linda Lingle's signature.
"The Aloha State now joins several others in the belief that transparency is vital to good governance," Andrew Moylan, NTU's government affairs manager said in a news release. "Hopefully, Gov. Lingle will come to agree with the Legislature that disclosure of state spending is an important and necessary tool for accountability."
Hawai'i joins Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Texas as the first states to open their books up to taxpayers online.
The Hawai'i plan is modeled after federal legislation co-sponsored by Sens. Tom Coburn and Barack Obama that has ordered the U.S. Office of Management and Budget to construct an Internet site for the general public to track the flow of federal grant and contract disbursements.
Moylan expressed concern, however, with one provision in HB 122 that limits disclosure to recipients of $25,000 or more.
"The federal-level legislation set the same limit, so surely a single state such as Hawai'i should have a lower threshold," he said. "The Legislature should act to reduce or remove this barrier."
Moylan added that Hawai'i represents yet another victory for the recently launched Show Me the Spending coalition, which is dedicated to passing similar legislation in all 50 states.
"Hawai'i may be America's 50th state, but it is among the first to recognize that accountable government is not a left or right issue, it's a right or wrong issue," Moylan said. "The other 45 states of this nation should do the same."