Illinois finances need transparency

By Editorial Board

Transparency has become a buzz word in Illinois politics, especially during the state’s last primary election cycle. Both Democratic and Republican candidates used the word in radio advertisements, TV commercials and in their personal slogans. Adam Andrzejewski, a lesser-known Republican gubernatorial candidate, offered a plan with transparency and used the phrase “Every Dime. Online. In Real Time.”

Even though Andrzejewski didn’t win the Republican nomination, his plan to put all of Illinois’ expenditures, revenue and budget cuts online remains appealing. Having this information available would be an improvement over the current Illinois political system that often seems shrouded from scrutiny.

It is important to have the budget and updated figures readily accessible to the public in order to display exactly how taxpayer money is used. This may help restore faith in Illinois’ corrupt political system.

Gov. Pat Quinn has yet to release the 2011 budget after postponing it until March 10.

According to the enacted fiscal year 2010 Illinois State Budget released in January by the Institute for Illinois’ Fiscal Sustainability at the Civic Federation, the state faces a two-year budget deficit going into fiscal year 2011 that reaches approximately $12.8 billion.

Because the state’s budget is in such disarray, it is now more vital than ever for Illinoisans to see where money is spent and where the budget is cut. Having the information online along with a public forum would allow for communication between taxpayers and public officials.

Having all expenditures and revenue figures on the state’s Web site could also eliminate the unnecessary or unethical spending alleged in the past because people can see where and to whom their money is going.

This database should be updated daily to ensure the figures are current and accurate.

Transparency of the state’s financial system would give the public the power to access numbers themselves, instead of relying on journalists and lawmakers to release the information. It would improve communication and knowledge among citizens, which could lead to improving the growing budget deficit.

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