Enactment of a bill last Thursday opening up Hawaii's state government spending to public scrutiny puts Hawaii in an elite group of states pioneering the "Google Government" movement, according to the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union
(NTU). Hawaii joins Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Texas as the first states to open their books up to taxpayers online, with the passage of House Bill 122
The Hawaii plan is modeled after federal legislation enacted last year, cosponsored by Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Barack Obama (D-IL). The law has ordered the U.S. Office of Management and Budget to construct an Internet destination for the general public to track the flow of federal grant and contract disbursements.
Despite the fact that H.B. 122 passed both chambers overwhelmingly two months ago, the bill became law without the signature of Governor Linda Lingle, said the taxpayers' group.
"The Aloha State now joins several others in the belief that transparency is vital to good governance," said Andrew Moylan, NTU's government affairs manager. "Hopefully, Governor Lingle will come to agree with the Legislature that disclosure of state spending is an important and necessary tool for accountability."
Moylan expressed concern, however, with one provision in HB 122 that limits disclosure to recipients of $25,000 or more. "The federal-level legislation set the same limit, so surely a single state such as Hawaii should have a lower threshold," he said. "The Legislature should act to reduce or remove this barrier."
Hawaii represents yet another victory for the recently launched http://www.showmethespending.org/ "Show Me the Spending" coalition, which is dedicated to passing similar legislation in all 50 states. NTU is one of the founders of the 21-member coalition.
"Hawaii may be America's 50th state, but it is among the first to recognize that accountable government is not a left or right issue, it's a right or wrong issue," Moylan concluded. "The other 45 states of this nation should do the same."