The Transparency in Government Act would create a user-friendly Web site to empower New Jersey citizens with the ability to ensure accountability for every state tax dollar. Senator Joe Pennacchio, R-District 26, the primary sponsor of the bill, is urging the state to create an easy-to-use site that displays the State’s annual revenues, expenditures and total debt as well as other current and historical information vital to monitoring government.
“Taxpayers have a right to know how the state is spending their money. Today, Trenton doesn’t help them very much,” Pennacchio said. “The state can easily provide information in a user-friendly format that can be accessed from homes, libraries and businesses. New Jersey citizens are demanding that it do so. It is long past time that we listen to taxpayers who are demanding that Trenton be accountable.”
“Garden State taxpayers get the bill for every expenditure made by the state. They deserve to know exactly where and how their hard-earned tax dollars are being spent,” said Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), a coalition of taxpayer groups, individuals and businesses opposed to higher taxes. “A number of states have already started to empower taxpayers to track their tax dollars virtually at a mouse click. In doing so they are not only providing greater accountability, but are also able to identify tangible savings and efficiencies. New Jersey should seize the opportunity to reap the same benefits, and pass the Transparency in Government Act, immediately.”
“With a growing budget deficit, New Jersey needs common-sense solutions to get more value out of every dollar spent and insure accountability from Trenton,” said Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean, a co-sponsor of the legislation.
“I am thrilled to hear the great state of New Jersey is considering budget transparency,” said Kasha Kelley, a state representative from Kansas who has championed government transparency on the Web across the nation. “In a time when faith in government is weak at best, allowing transparency and sunlight into the fiscal affairs of government is simply and yet profoundly critical.”
Similar legislation has been successful other states such as Texas and Kansas. An example of such a Web site can be viewed at: http://www.kansas.gov/kanview/.
In Texas, the state Comptroller Susan Comb was able to indentify $2.3 million in savings in her agency alone. One example: The site helped her discover that her office had five contracts for toner. The contracts were consolidated into one for a savings of about $73,000 a year.
Senator Pennacchio has established an online petition to build grassroot support for this legislation which is available at www.transparentnj.com. The website also includes links to other states using similar databases and a list of New Jersey municipalities that have sponsored resolutions in support of this legislation.