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New Bill Exposes Government Spending

By: Christie Bett Email
By: Christie Bett Email

Nebraska's government will now be held accountable to the public for every dollar they spend.

A new bill passed Tuesday will change the way the state treasurer's website is run, to detail where every tax dollar goes, and now it's up to the public to hold the government responsible for that spending.

Legislative Bill 16 was introduced by Senator Tom White of Omaha; he says with a one-house Legislature, the people of Nebraska must stay informed to do their part. And with the passage of this bill, White says they'll have all the information at their fingertips, they just have to use it.

"We have a one-house Legislature, a Unicameral, the only one in the country, and the whole proposition behind that is that the people of Nebraska were supposed to be the other house. Well, they can't do their job unless they have the information. You put it on a computer, any citizen can access it, they can really have an impact," White said.

Senator White originally suggested the Legislature run their own website detailing state spending, but State Treasurer Shane Osborn objected, saying his site, NebraskaSpending.com, already did that.

Osborn declined to comment, but released a statement about the new bill.
"The passage of LB 16 represents a historic day for Nebraska taxpayers as our Legislature makes permanent my transparency website, NebraskaSpending.com. By codifying this website, the Legislature is underscoring my point that elected officials have a duty to show the public how their tax dollars are being spent right down to the last penny," said Osborn.
Jack Gould of Common Cause says the bill is a positive step towards government transparency and public involvement.

"It's in the best interest of the public to stay informed and to look at those websites and go through and look at where tax money is spent, and to be able to express themselves intelligently about how government operates," said Gould.

Exactly what Senator White says the people of Nebraska should be ready for.

"With the financial record readily available, we can much more accurately track how much money is being spent to put out those small fires before they grow into big ones, and if we don't do the job, then we're answerable to the people.

As part of the bill's compromise, Osborn must remove his pictures from the site and won't receive funding to maintain it.

Also, Osborn must publish the new version of his site by January 1, 2010.

For a link to the current site, just click on the link below.


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