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  • The Conservative Commitment to Open Government

    Republican National Convention

    ST. PAUL — The Heritage Foundation has long believed that a more informed populace will lead to greater government accountability and less wasteful spending. That is why we were so eager to partner with the Sunlight Foundation on their Exposing Earmarks project. In that same spirit, we are very proud to feature a guest post today from Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt:

    I established the Missouri Accountability Portal to equip taxpayers with new power to hold the government accountable for what it spends. In the year since the spotlight came on, our site has received more than 10 million hits as more people are using this powerful new tool for open government.

    The taxpayer has no greater friend than Grover Norquist, who has shined the light on elected officials and candidates who want to raise taxes as well as progressive efforts like ours to provide taxpayers with greater information on how government spends their tax dollars. We know why politicians want to raise taxes: so they can spend more money. If people cannot see what the government is doing, we have government in secret. The bottom line is that public scrutiny is a vital firewall against wasteful and uncontrolled spending.

    Missouri is a low tax state, but Missourians still pay more than $3,500 per capita in state and local taxes annually, according to the Tax Foundation. There were some who wanted me to raise taxes when I became governor to address an inherited $1.1 billion deficit. We did not raise taxes. We cut taxes — three times. Each time, public awareness of the link between taxes and spending has been very important in securing legislative majorities.

    Every citizen has a right to know where and how their money is being spent. Citizens are supposed to hold us accountable. This principle is a bedrock of democratic self-government. At 25,000 site hits per day and total hits now nearly twice our state population, it is clear that people are eager for more and better knowledge about the state’s checkbook.

    The Missouri Accountability Portal is a free, online tool that provides ready access data about how elected officials and agencies spend hard-earned tax dollars. The Internet site is located at http://mapyourtaxes.mo.gov

    My administration built the MAP with existing resources, without new spending. We update information at the close of each business day. Users can search the MAP by budget category, vendor or contract. They can also view the salaries of all state employees as well as see who is benefiting from the state’s tax credits.

    Missouri is among the few states in good financial shape. We have a surplus, lower taxes and spending growth that has been brought under control for the first time since the 1990s. We have increased aid to education at all levels, which was being raided by liberals to fund out-of-control costs in social welfare programs.

    There have been no job-killing tax increases, nor any other kind of tax increase — if there are other kinds.

    We can control spending. All this means is that the government has more than enough money already, and needs to do a better job with what it takes right now. We can cut taxes, save money and modernize government. We have proven it, in fidelity to our motto, as the Show-Me State.

    Opening the books to inspection by any citizen with an Internet connection is a vital step toward the goal that Grover Norquist and I share with millions of Americans — government that is open, efficient and pro-taxpayer.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    5 Responses to The Conservative Commitment to Open Government

    1. Anne, So. Cal says:

      Please, send this wonderful idea to Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger, California could use this!

    2. Dee says:

      Excellent idea, I wish Granholm would implement it. She won't, it would expose all the wastefull government spending that is going while at the same time telling us she has to raise taxes to cover expenses. Michigan get it figured out and clean house!

    3. Sandra - Oregon says:

      I think what we need is voting booths set up across the nation for the voters to decide how our tax money is spent. People could check what has been posted and decide which is most important. Each voter would be issued a code, like their zip code along with some part of their SS number to be able to participate. Then the Congress and Senate would decide how/which to fulfill. This would save billions; without pork barrel and lobbyists. They could have guidelines listing each state & what they need along with our freedom to decide. This would take fight out of the parties, one against the other, and be FOR THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE. This would put the power back to the people no matter what party they belong to.

    4. Thomas, Jefferson Ci says:

      The Governor did not inherit a $1.1 billion dollar deficit. Article IV of the Missouri constitution requires a balanced budget. The Governor's claim is based on budget requests from agencies which always outpaces spending. By the Governor's line of thinking the next Governor will inherit a nearly $1.5 billion dollar deficit.

      I think when you check out the accountability portal you will find it is of little value for actually pointing out wasteful spending. There is zero analysis just a bunch of numbers with little or no meaning. And has numerous people have pointed out the ten million hits to the website is wildly inflated. And by looking at the portal you can't find that the Governor squandering $100 million for one St. Louis developer, gave $50 million to renovate a football stadium, directed million of dollars in no bid contracts to his cronies to run motor vehicle offices, or gave his lobbyist brother's clients tens of millions of dollars in wasteful government spending.

      The Governor claims to have cut taxes three times. There was one tax cut of significance on social security taxes and the Governor and the general assembly deserve credit for that. But there have been dozens of fee increases throughout state government for various services. In one cases the Governor tried to increase the fee for copying in bulk motor vehicles records by more than 1,000%, yes more than 1,000%, until the legislature put a stop to it. Overall spending has increased substantially more than the failed previous democratic administration. And overall spending has outpaced by 4% more than the rate of inflation.

      As a conservative and a long time now retired state employee, I can tell you there is a reason Blunt is not running for reelection. He is unpopular even among conservatives. A lot of us feel like Kenny Hulshof should have been the nominee in 2004 and are happy that he is running this election cycle.

      In addition:

      The Governor also fired one of his lawyers because named Scott Eckersley because he advised that governmental e-mails are a public record which they clearly are under state law. Eckersley sued and state is likely going to be left with a rather large claim for wrongful termination.

      The Governor hired a political crony named Randa Hayes to run his jobs program who was a convicted felon.

      When the Governor's hand picked ag director sexually harassed an employee the Governor personally intervened on his behalf. The state had to settle out of court and the taxpayers were stuck with the bill.

      The Governor has had three chief of staffs, four general counsels, three policy directors, and four press secretaries in less than four years of governing.

      I think the boy wonder dropped Grover Norquist's name to make you think he is a true conservative. The only thing Blunt has been is a true disaster.

    5. Adam Radman says:

      Great post, Governor. Also, thank you for the kind words about Grover. ATR strongly encourages everyone to get involved in the fight to promote spending transparency at every level of government. It's probably the biggest fight we will have for the next 10-20 years.

      That's why ATR created the Center for Fiscal Accountability to work on government spending transparency and accountability on the local, state, and federal level. Check it out at http://www.fiscalaccountability.org .

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