California, Colorado consider transparency measures

State legislators in California and Colorado are considering measures that would increase government transparency. Lawmakers in Colorado are pushing two bills that would provide more information about how the state is spending transportation dollars and how impact fees are paid out. In California, a Democratic assemblyman defied his party to push a measure that would require lawmakers to disclose their staff budgets and expenditures to the public.

Republican and Democratic legislators came together on the transparency measures going forward in the Colorado statehouse. The sponsors want to give the public access to the books that hold accounting information for transportation projects and impact fees. Impact fees are fees given to government agencies by developers for infrastructure costs now and into the future.

The Colorado Department of Transportation is being highlighted with these measures because the Department is not subject to the state’s existing sunshine initiatives. Sponsors of the bills are calling for some basic accounting to be put online so that the public can have a better understanding of where money is being spent and what the remaining balances are.

In California, Assemblyman Anthony Portantino is sponsoring a bill that would require lawmakers to disclose their staff budgets and year to date expenditures to the public. Portantino defied party leadership in putting the bill forward citing the importance of transparency and the need for fairer allocations of staff budgets. He aims to have an equal allocation for all lawmakers by forcing the allocation amounts into public disclosures.

The measure comes as part of a broader battle inside the state Democratic party. Portantino also defied party leadership with his vote on the state budget, drawing fire from party leader Anthony Perez. Local media outlets are now suing the Assembly for access to the budget records in light of the open hostilities between Perez and Portantino.

The bill is getting support from some Assembly Republicans who support more transparency for the taxpayer overall.

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