Though Florida is known as the Sunshine State,” which is even reflected in our “Sunshine” governing laws, some are concerned that our spending practices are still a little shady.
We’re not implying there is anything unethical going on. Rather, the best way to increase voter confidence, which is at record lows, and voter participation are by empowering people through information and access that keeps our government and its most important fiduciary responsibility, the spending of your money, in the light. If democracy and freedom are rooted in the trickle up effect of public participation, not in a dictate down approach of aloof or fiat rule, then everyone engaged in the process must be mutually informed.
Never before has the ability to be a government for the people and by the people been so accessible. Therefore we have been working for over five years to use the innovative tools at our disposal to increase transparency in Florida government. A website is now operational and being updated regularly called www.transparencyflorida.gov.
As it says on the homepage, “The Florida Legislature created Transparency Florida to provide the public with unprecedented access to state government spending information by posting Florida’s operating budget and associated expenditure records online. Transparency Florida is designed to provide a current, continually updated picture of the state’s operating budget as well as daily expenditures made by state agencies. The numbers are updated nightly as funds are released to agencies, transferred between budget categories and payments are written for goods and services.”
Like never before, the electorate can drill as deep as they want to see where their money is being used and be as specific as one budgetary entity, like the widening of I-95 or for Brevard Community College.
As you probably know I believe in low taxes and in tax simplification. As a history professor, I am convinced that much of the prosperity we enjoy today is due to the economic freedom we have experienced throughout our history as a nation. When people keep more of what they earn, they will save, spend or invest those additional dollars, promoting freedom and responsibility, raising our standard of living, and benefiting the economy for us all. But those funds that are transferred to the state for roads, schools and safety must be accounted for just like they would for investments made in any publicly traded company.
There is a sage and ancient proverb that observed, “As we walk in the light…we have agreement one with another.” It is the light of access to information and the ability to directly communicate with our elected officials that keeps the necessary reigns on government and ensures the highest and best use of every tax dollar. Remember, as Thomas Jefferson once said, “We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”