Schuitmaker and Colbeck Bills mandate transparency in government spending

Schuitmaker and Colbeck Bills mandate transparency in government spending
Lt. Governor Calley testifies in Senate committee in support of transparency efforts

LANSING—Legislation requiring state departments to publicly disclose all spending was passed by the Senate Reforms, Restructuring, and Reinventing Committee today.  Lt. Gov. Brian Calley testified in support of the effort to bring greater transparency to state spending.

Senate Bill 21, sponsored by Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, and Senate Bill 802, sponsored by Sen. Patrick Colbeck, will require greater transparency and accountability from state government and will provide residents with additional information online about how taxpayer dollars are being spent.

“This transparency legislation will make it easier for all citizens to see where every penny is being spent and will reveal the true price of government,” said Colbeck, R-Canton. “We will soon be able trace money to the core services that justify the existence of a government agency, support services such as human resources, information technology and accounting that enable the delivery of these core services, and one-time work projects.

“This information will arm legislators and residents with the data we need to manage our government services more like a business so that we maximize the value of every tax dollar that we spend and improve customer service,” Colbeck noted.

“All of the money spent by the state government is money that was first earned by hardworking taxpayers,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “They have a right to know how it is being spent.

“This is probably something that should have happened a while ago, but better now than never,” added Schuitmaker

Lt. Gov. Calley testified before the committee about the efforts already underway by the governor’s office to increase transparency in spending and reinvent the budget process. Calley lent his support to the Senate’s efforts to put into statute measures to require continued transparency.

“We are trying to institutionalize the improved budget practices that are being followed today beyond just this year and beyond just the next term in office by seeing that performance management is something that is ingrained in the culture of government going forward,” Calley said. “Addressing this in statute would be an effective way to accomplish these goals, and this legislation essentially adopts that culture.”

SB 802 requires departments to develop spending plans for enacted budgets. The departments will have 60 days to finish and present these plans to the Legislature. In addition, these plans will be posted on each department website. The legislation requires departments to explain how they’re spending money and gives the Legislature the information they need to make smart budget decisions in upcoming years.

SB 21 focuses on the customer service aspect of state government. Government is using taxpayer money and residents want to know where it’s going and that it’s being used for the right purposes. Budgets will be based on metrics. Departments must define and meet certain goals in conjunction with the governor’s budget recommendations. Funding given to each department must be used to meet those objectives.

“Together, SB 802 and SB 21 enable value for money budgeting,” Colbeck concluded.