The ceremonial signing this past week of bill that will require that state agencies post annual reports identifying the federal funds received by each and the extent to which they are relied upon served as a reminder of the importance of government transparency.
Senate Bill 271 was signed officially on April 29, but Gov. Kevin Stitt gathered with co-authors Sen. Nathan Dahm and Rep. Kyle Hilbert and bill backers for a more formal signing to boost awareness of the law and its impact. Knowing how much federal funds a state agency receives and the extent to which it relies on those funds will present a better picture for taxpayers who care about state spending.
According to reporting from the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, Dahm, a Broken Arrow Republican, said lawmakers too often focus on appropriated funds while ignoring other funding sources state agencies regularly receive and use. That tendency apparently has been used by some as smoke and mirrors during the budgeting process.
Now there may be times when federal funds may make an agency appear flush with funds — the infusion of stimulus funds following the global market collapse in 2008, for example. Lawmakers must exercise caution to guard against taking punitive measures for temporary infusion of funds.
But overall, transparency in government should be the goal in every policy decision. And knowing what funds an agency has available and the extent to which it relies on those funds is a good thing — we look forward to reading those annual reports.