A report released Tuesday (April 13) finds that seven states — Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, Minnesota, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Texas — lead the nation in budget transparency, providing the public with comprehensive and easily searchable information about government spending.
Eighteen states flunked the scorecard created by U.S. PIRG, a Boston-based research and advocacy group that supports government-transparency Web sites. The remaining 25 states were deemed "emerging."
Kentucky led all states with 97 out of 100 points, easily outscoring second-place Ohio (84 points) and the rest of the top-tier states. The report credited Kentucky's " OpenDoor " Web site, which is updated daily and provides salaries, contract information and other detailed data caches.
"As we face an unprecedented $1.5 billion shortfall over the next biennium, it is more important than ever for government to be transparent and accountable, and for citizens to feel confident that their tax dollars are being used efficiently and responsibly," Governor Steve Beshear said in a statement, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader .
The report noted that state governments have done much in recent years to make spending information available online, and that elected officials of both political parties have supported the push. But it also said that much more can be done. Only eight states, for example, publish information about government spending at the local level.
In the report, U.S. PIRG also said the relatively low cost of setting up government transparency Web sites should be an incentive for more states to set them up. California's site, for example, cost just $21,000 to create.