Who could possibly oppose telling taxpayers how their money is spent? Turns out bureaucrats have a special antipathy for transparency.
COST learned about a meeting last week where the face of transparency obstruction in Colorado was unveiled. According to sources, State Controller David McDermott is no fan of transparency. He called it “dangerous” for the state and ”confusing” for taxpayers. The Office of the State Controller is charged with managing the “financial affairs of the State of Colorado”.
While acknowledging that he cannot stop the transparency trend in Colorado, McDermott indicated he does not want transparency in state statute. He spoke of the difficulty of implementing transparency because of governmental accounting practices and possible liability to the state. When challenged with the fact that 38 “good people,” including Democrat and Republican legislators, want this legislation, McDermott smiled and questioned, “I wonder how many would support it if they saw the cost.” Some attendees took that as a threat to kill the bill with a massive fiscal note, which is what happened to the transparency legislation in 2007.
Colorado’s Controller is in stark contrast to Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, who openly embraces transparency in her state. The Texas transparency Web site Where the Money Goes is the product of honest bi-partisan legislation that included support from Combs.
The Texas Comptroller’s Web site even highlights Open Book Texas where visitors can see how her office is “working across the state to shed a light on how taxpayer dollars are spent to ensure every way to save is found.”
Besides their differing views on transparency, there is another huge difference between David McDermott and Susan Combs: Combs is elected and McDermott is appointed. Combs’ elected position is similar to Colorado’s Treasurer Cary Kennedy. As COST has posted before, Kennedy embraced transparency on the campaign trail but has yet to show Coloradans where their money goes.
COST is sympathetic to the challenges that McDermott and his office face, since it is charged with doing the state’s considerable business. However, McDermott and his employees work for the taxpayers of Colorado, not the state of Colorado. It’s hard to believe that the federal government and a whole slew of states can put their expenditures and revenues online for taxpayers to see but Colorado cannot.
Americans put a man on the moon using slide rules and computers with less power than today’s average calculator. It seems reasonable to expect Colorado to put expenditures and revenues online using existing technology.
Remember: If you can’t defend it, don’t spend it.