Utah taxpayers are now just a click away from being able to see how their tax dollars are being spent. Utah’s new public finance website – www.transparent.utah.gov – was introduced by Lt. Governor Gary Herbert at a press conference on Tuesday, May 19, in the Gold Room at the State Capitol.
Lt. Gov. Herbert said, “A common complaint people have is, ‘We don’t know what government is doing, we don’t know how they’re doing it, and we don’t know how they’re spending our money.'”
While the Beehive State joins other states with similar websites – including Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Missouri – Utah now has what may be the finest, most user-friendly public finance website in the country. Many are to be commended for the creation, design, funding, and supervision of this resource that is essential to the preservation of our democratic processes and liberties.
Sutherland Institute commends State Senator Wayne Niederhauser, chief sponsor of the legislation creating the website, members of the Legislature and Transparency Advisory Board, and managers and staff specialists of the executive-branch departments responsible for developing the means by which government operations and spending are now more visible and accountable to Utah citizens.
During the press conference, Senator Niederhauser said, “The Sutherland Institute and the Utah Taxpayers Association were tireless in their efforts in getting Transparency passed.” He also predicted that the new website could potentially save taxpayers millions of dollars, in part because so many more eyes on government processes could discourage fraud.
Currently, there are 4.6 million state-government financial transactions available for review from the current budget year that began July 1, 2008 (with the exception of insitutions of higher education that will provide financial information generated for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2009). Transactions can be sorted in a variety of ways, including by department or by vendor.
“This is just the beginning … efficiency in government is a work in progress,” said Lt. Governor Herbert. By May of next year, Utahns can expect to see all school districts, charter schools, and transit districts make their financial information available online. By May 2011, counties, municipalities (cities and towns), and local and special districts will also be included.
With the launch of www.transparent.utah.gov, Utahns are encouraged to regularly visit the site where they can find records of expenditures, financial reports, financial audits, budgets, and other financial documents pertaining to their state government.