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Protecting taxpayers

The taxpayers of Missouri work hard for their money, and the last thing they want their government to do during these tough economic times is waste their hard-earned tax dollars. For this reason, we have made protecting taxpayers one of the four pillars of our Blueprint for Missouri. This week, the Missouri House moved forward on this important issue by passing two bills, HB 1140 and HB 1135, which protect taxpayers.

During these times of budget shortfalls, many states across the nation have tried to plug their budget holes by raising taxes. Here in the House, we have a different philosophy. We have consistently worked to protect taxpayers by balancing the budget without raising taxes, by providing transparency about how your tax dollars are spent and by reducing regulations.

Taxpayers pay the bills of state government, and, without them, we couldn’t provide the vital services needed for economic development or educating our children. However, during these difficult times, we must hold all levels of government accountable to the taxpayer to ensure that your tax dollars are being used wisely. That is why we are working to increase transparency at the local level and review antiquated regulations on the books of our state agencies.

An informed citizenry is the best way to keep government from growing too large and unmanageable. But information about local government entities can often be difficult to find. HB 1140 holds local governments accountable by making local information accessible to every taxpayer. 

Currently, information about state spending is available online at the Missouri Accountability Portal. HB 1140 requires counties and schools to submit their debts and holdings to the Office of Administration for posting on the portal. This gives taxpayers a one stop shop for tracking how their state and local tax dollars are being spent, expanding the information available to them.

HB 1135 improves transparency by requiring the review of administrative rules. Over time, department rules become outdated or obsolete. By requiring these rules to be reviewed periodically, we can ensure that all agency rules are efficient and effective.

Under current law, rules can stay on the books of a state agency indefinitely. HB 1135 also requires all administrative rules to sunset after 10 years. By including the sunset provision, all rules will have to venture through the public comment process periodically, giving citizens a say in how our executive departments run.

Now, more than ever, we need to keep government as lean and efficient as possible so we can keep more money where it belongs, in the pockets of taxpayers. By improving transparency and government accountability, you can serve as a watchdog for government waste.

This report is filed at the end of each week during the legislative session. This report was filed at the close of business last week.

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