By Marc Kovac
A Republican lawmaker and the GOP state treasurer want to post Ohio’s checkbook online, enabling residents to keep tabs on state spending, particularly who receives public funds.
State Rep. Mike Dovilla of Berea, R-7th, said he plans to introduce his “Open Ohio” legislation this week to create an online database detailing all of the state’s expenditures. The site would be maintained by the state treasurer’s office and would provide an easy way for users to search checks issued by name or agency.
“Our taxpayers deserve to know what money is being spent on and where their money is being spent,” Dovilla said. “Our taxpayers deserve to know that we are committed as legislators to advancing efficient effective state government that respects them. Quite simply, our taxpayers deserve better. One of the best ways to accomplish this objective is to allow Ohioans themselves to help us root out government waste, fraud and abuse.”
The proposed database would include the date of each state expenditure, the name of the recipient, the agency that offered the payment and the amount of money involved.
Treasurer Josh Mandel also has created a section of his office’s website that lists public employee salaries. He said the expenditure database would serve as a natural progression and provide greater public access to information about state spending.
“This legislation essentially calls for taking the state’s checkbook and putting in on the Internet,” Mandel said, adding, “The more sunlight we can shine on [government spending], the more efficient government will be.”
A report released earlier this year by the Public Interest Research Group gave Ohio a D-plus grade on budget transparency for failing to provide enough public access to its financial dealings. Ohio PIRG spokeswoman Tabitha Woodruff said the legislation announced Tuesday would likely raise the state’s ranking.
“We are encouraged by efforts to provide Ohioans with checkbook-level state budget transparency,” she said in a released statement. “Ohio can do better in tracking public dollars. Open information about the public purse is crucial for democratic and effective government.”
It is not possible to ensure that government spending decisions are fair and efficient unless information is publicly accessible.”