2011 Legislative Preview: HB 1017

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Bill Name: AN ACT CONCERNING THE CREATION OF A WEBSITE TO ASCERTAIN THE REVENUES AND EXPENDITURES OF STATE AGENCIES

Sponsor: Ed Garner (R-41), 501-663-7880, ed.garner@arkansashouse.org

Purpose: To create a  free searchable online database that tracks state revenues and expenditures for each state agency.  This was one of Mark Darr’s campaign ideas if I recall, and Ed Garner filed the bill to make it a reality.  Though the proposed law is needlessly prolix and includes such ham-fisted words as “programmatically,” it is solidly done overall.

Pros for Average Arkansans: Transparency.  This has needed to be done for a long time; all six states that border Arkansas have something like this already in place.  Assuming everything is on the up-and-up, nobody should care if the incomes and outflows are visible.  Of course, putting this in place means we may no longer only be able to assume that everything is on the up-and-up.  I’m not gonna lie: I am a huge fan of the premise behind this bill.

Cons for Average Arkansans: The common refrain I’ve read and heard is that some people “don’t know if we can afford it.”  Simply put, I don’t buy it.  Even looking beyond the cost savings that could result from fewer shenanigans, putting this kind of system in place is not likely to cost much.  Sure, there will be a lot of man-hours in coding and data collection, but those are one-time costs for the most part.  If you put a good system in place for updating the data, maintenance costs will be minimal down the road.

Official BHR Position: Strongly support.