The current budget crisis in state government could mean difficult choices in public policy, which underscores the need for the public to see clearly how those choices are being framed. While there’s special urgency to this kind of transparency at the moment, open and accountable government is always best, even in good economic times.
That’s why we’re heartened that the state Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee Wednesday approved a bill that would open more state government records to the public.
Sponsored by state Sen. Robert Adley, a Benton Republican, Senate Bill 593 does several good things, but its most important provision is one that opens more documents related to state fiscal or budget matters to public view. As part of existing law, records created as part of budget deliberations for many powerful and important state agencies can be shielded from public view for six months. That gives officials lots of time to craft important spending policies out of public view. SB593 would allow public access to these important budget documents.