by Aon Hussain
The Illinois Policy Institute’s Local Transparency Project aims to conduct a transparency audit of every taxing body in the state. Allowing citizens to attain information about government contracts, expenditures and municipal officials gives the public opportunities to highlight wasteful spending, prevent corruption, and improve the democratic system.
Realizing the benefits of increased transparency, legislators in Springfield have also become more pragmatic on the issue. Currently, two bills are close to being signed into law and both would open up key information to taxpayers across the state.
The first, HB1079, requires all public universities to report on expenditures above a certain threshold in addition to other measures that promote increased transparency for state universities.
The other, SB43, requires that the state make public all state and local tax rates. This would be done online. The law mandates that the tax rates be searchable by zip code too.
Both measures, passed unanimously by both chambers of the legislature, have yet to be enacted as they await a signature from the governor.
But both bills show progress for a state that is facing serious budget problems and could use further scrutiny from concerned taxpayers at all levels of government.
Even with substantial progress being made from the part of legislators, transparency still remains a major issue for Liberty Leaders and elected officials.
Nancy Thorner recently wrote a letter to the editor in the Lake Forester. She discusses the problems that exist at Lake Forest High School District 115. She mentions that the district’s financial situation is worsening due to less state funding and the district’s obligation to live up to contractual obligations.
Will the public be privy to the contract deals that are made between the union and teachers and administrators in Districts 115 and 67?…The issue of transparency, or the lack of it, looms large at Lake Forest High School District 115. As taxpayers you deserve better.
Elected officials desire increased transparency as well. St. Clair Township trustee Bob Trentman advocates in the Belleville News-Democrat that online transparency isn’t enough. He proposes that transparency be administered even further by putting key information in local newspapers.
I admit it is expensive to publish government information in the paper, but the benefits outweigh the expense. . . The public has the right to view information required by law in a generally circulated newspaper.
Increased transparency is an important issue. Be sure to learn more about how you can get involved in our Liberty Leaders program and how you can also facilitate increased transparency in your community.