Alaska Bill Promises Spending Transparency | Citizens Against Government Waste

Alaska Bill Promises Spending Transparency

The WasteWatcher

During the 2022 legislative session, lawmakers in Alaska will consider a bill that would bring transparency to government spending.  HB 86, the Alaska Online Checkbook Act, “is intended to allow people of the state to identify and discover state revenue and expenditures.”  If the bill is enacted into law, Alaskans will be able to easily find out how the state government is spending the taxpayers’ money.

The legislation would require the state’s Department of Administration to publish a detailed accounting of all state expenditures on a public website each year in compliance with generally accepted accounting and auditing principles.  The department must also provide a travel and compensation report that includes “salaries, per diem, travel expenses, relocation expenses, and any additional allowances for” various government officials, including the governor and lieutenant governor and their chiefs of staff, heads of public universities, and the heads of public corporations.  HB 86 also requires a detailed reporting of all revenues and expenditures made by government agencies.

If Alaska adopts this legislation, it will follow in the path of Ohio, whose Ohio Checkbook went live in 2014.  The Ohio Checkbook allows taxpayers to examine the state’s budget, revenue, contracts, employee salaries, General Revenue fund, rainy-day fund, and school fund among other state expenditures.  With the inclusion of a search function, the Ohio Checkbook allows the general public to find information about where and how money was spent free of charge and with relative ease.  Since its creation, the Checkbook has provided taxpayers in the Buckeye State with a look into the spending practices of their state, thus creating an opportunity for greater oversight and transparency.

Transparency plays an essential role in maintaining an effective, citizen centric government.  As federal funds continue to flow to Alaska through the American Rescue Plan Act, and the state prepares to accept more federal funds from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, it is imperative that residents have easy access to how their government is spending this significant flow of money.  With the new checkbook at their disposal, residents of the Last Frontier will be able to keep a better eye on how their representatives in Juneau, and across the state, are using their resources. 

Spending transparency allows taxpayers to learn where and how their government spends money and provides an opportunity for them to hold public officials accountable.  The Alaska Online Checkbook Act can help Alaskans determine where their elected officials are either spending the money wisely or wasting it on inefficient and ineffective programs.  The Alaska legislature should pass this bill to establish increased transparency and allow for greater oversight.

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