Transparency in Municipal Government Should Be Mandatory
Longtime readers are familiar with the wide array of transparency projects that the Show-Me Institute has undertaken over the last few years. In fact, our Show-Me Checkbook Project has helped prod two separate “checkbook” portals in state government since its introduction six years ago, but participation in those state portals is largely voluntary for local governments. Missouri should change that and require that, as a condition of being able to take money from people through force (which is what taxation is), local governments generally and cities especially should be reporting their spending to the state regularly and with specificity.
There are two key ways of doing this reporting. The first way is by embracing something along the lines of House Bill 2242 from 2019, which included mandatory municipal transparency language. The second way is by tweaking Missouri Revised Statutes §§37.1090 to 37.1098 by replacing the voluntary “may” language with mandatory “shall” statements.
Making local government transparency mandatory in Missouri would be an enormous leap forward in government accountability in the Show-Me State. Transparency can empower people, build trust in government, and ensure public resources are used in the best way possible.