As Treasurer of Ohio, I believe taxpayers have a right to know how their tax dollars are being spent. All too often, we the people aren’t able to follow our money once we write a check to city hall, the state capital or Washington, D.C.
I believe that when we make government small in size and scope, we make the individual big. And in giving taxpayers a tool to follow every cent of their hard-earned tax money, OhioCheckbook.com helps to transfer the power from the politicians to the people.
As State Treasurer, I created OhioCheckbook.com to empower you to hold politicians’ feet to the fire. And since its launch in 2014, we’ve reached many important milestones:
• New National Standard: As a result of OhioCheckbook.com, we brought Ohio’s fiscal transparency ranking from 46th to first in the nation.
• All 88: Each of Ohio’s 88 counties now have local governments who have posted their spending on OhioCheckbook.com.
• Local Governments and Schools: Nearly 1,200 local governments and school districts have joined the movement for statewide government transparency by partnering with my office to post their spending information online. Here in Miami County, there are three local governments participating, including Pleasant Hill, Bethel Township and the Bradford Public Library.
• More Data Available: OhioCheckbook.com now displays over $598 billion of state spending over the past nine fiscal years, including over 164 million individual checks. This information is online and at the fingers of anyone with an internet connection – everything from $2 for a pack of pencils to $2 million for road expenditures, and everything in between.
• Public Universities: We recently celebrated another significant milestone with the addition of the first public institutes of higher education on OhioCheckbook.com. Bowling Green State University, Central State University and the Central Ohio Technical College paved the way for other universities to follow by posting their finances online. This occasion marked the first time in history taxpayers are able to follow their money at the university level.
• Public Pension Funds: We made history by expanding OhioCheckbook.com to include Ohio’s five statewide public pension funds, becoming the first state in the country to have all statewide public pension funds’ operating expenditures online.
As Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis once said, “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” And I agree. By posting government spending online, citizens are able to play an active role in their government and help root out fraud, waste and abuse.
My hope is that more local governments in Miami County will continue to join me in my mission of empowering taxpayers to hold politicians accountable.
Visit OhioCheckbook.com to see if your community and schools are posting their spending. And if they refuse, I encourage you to show up at their city council meetings and school board meetings and ask them what they have to hide?
Josh Mandel is the State Treasurer of Ohio.