LABI, BRAC optimistic about today’s Louisiana Checkbook vote

Business Report

Louisiana Checkbook, the financial transparency website that would allow taxpayers to see where their state tax dollars are being spent, is up for a vote in the House today.

“We are optimistic ‘the third time’s the charm’ for this smart policy,” says Camille Conaway, senior vice president for the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, which has been a vocal proponent of the concept.

The proposed legislation, Senate Bill 13 by Sen. Rick Ward, R-Port Allen, passed the Senate by a 34-0 vote Wednesday. Ward’s bill is similar to two filed in the House by Rep. Barry Ivey, R-Baton Rouge, and House Speaker Taylor Barras, R-New Iberia, both of which weren’t seen by the Senate.

The bills would establish a user-friendly website modeled after the Ohio Checkbook, which has allowed state residents to track revenue and spending since the site was launched in 2014.

Today’s House vote marks the third time the legislation has surfaced this year since being introduced during the first special session and coming back for the regular session.

Spearheaded by LABI, business and policy groups including the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana are pushing the Legislature to replicate the Ohio concept in Louisiana. They tout it as a way to improve government accountability by bringing more transparency to the budget-making process.

“We’ve seen the value of this information at the local level through sites like Open Data BR, and we encourage local governments and state agencies to take advantage these kinds of transparency tools,” says Logan Anderson, BRAC director of governmental affairs.

If it passes the House, the Senate would still have to approve changes Ivey has made to SB 13 before heading to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

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