House Tax and Revenue Committee Kills Transparency Effort

Despite New Mexico’s status as one of the most corrupt and scandal-plagued in the nation, the Legislature appears likely to miss out on an opportunity to give citizens a chance to see where there taxpayer dollars are going.
The House Tax and Revenue Committee tabled SB 159 yesterday which would have made available to the public an easily accessible, searchable budget database on the Department of Finance and Administration’s website. SB 159 passed the Senate floor unanimously.
“SB 159 was a common sense proposal that would have provided much needed budget awareness of how state government spends a nearly $6 billion operating budget. This transparency is essential to ensuring the people retain confidence in their government. Equally important, budget transparency helps prevent waste, fraud and abuse,” stated Tax and Revenue Committee member Rep. James Strickler (R-San Juan-2).
Last week, the Rio Grande Foundation hosted Robert Wood with the Texas Comptroller’s office for a series of meetings on government openness and transparency with New Mexico legislators and elected officials. During his meetings, he explained Texas’ excellent websites Texas OpenBook and Where the Money Goes which includes state contracts, vendor information, and salary information for public officials in Texas.
New Mexico could and should join Texas and the dozens of other states that are using technology to give citizens and taxpayers more information on how their money is used. Unfortunately, the House Taxation and Revenue Committee apparently doesn’t want New Mexicans to have this information.