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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Amendment X: Government Transparency in Missouri

Our colleague Aubrey Spalding at the Show-Me Institute found the state's transparency website lacking, since it didn't allow the public to access the data behind the spending and revenue reports it offered. So she asked for them to do better.
While MAP had readily searchable tables of employee salaries, state spending, tax revenues, and tax credits, the large databases behind those tables weren’t available for download as a whole; instead, they were exportable only in bite-sized tables. This made analyzing, say, state expenditures during the past decade impossible.

I left a voicemail; they left a voicemail. I left another voicemail. And then, on Friday, I was told that the web page was up.

That’s right, not only did the folks at MAP fulfill my request, but they thought they might as well fix this problem for everyone. Here’s the link: http://mapyourtaxes.mo.gov/MAP/Download/Default.aspx. On this page, you can download: state expenditures for the past decade, either by year or as a gigantic database; stimulus revenues and expenditures; a database of employee salaries for the past three years; and the amounts that the state has given away in tax credits during the past decade. Oh, and the spreadsheets for this year are updated each night — so you don’t get stale data.
We need to remind our state officials that such transparency is not only possible; it's necessary.

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