A new report, rating each state's use of online databases to give the public information about government spending, lists Kentucky as the only state getting an "A" grade. The report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a long-established government watchdog, "evaluates states’ progress toward 'Transparency 2.0' – a new standard of comprehensive, one-stop, one-click budget accountability and accessibility," it says in a news release. The report reveals at least 32 states "currently mandate that residents be able to access an online database of government expenditures with 'checkbook-level' detail."
Kentucky led all states with a grade of 97 percent. The next closest was Ohio at 84. Kentucky's Web site only lost points for not linking funding related to the federal stimulus act and for not including financial information for local and county budgets. "Openness in government has been a top priority of this administration, and it is gratifying that our extensive efforts have not only received notice, but have been ranked the best in the nation," Gov. Steve Beshear said in a statement. "As we face an unprecedented $1.5 billion shortfall over the next biennium, it is more important than ever for government to be transparent and accountable, and for citizens to feel confident that their tax dollars are being used efficiently and responsibly. I’m proud of the efforts we have made, along with the bipartisan support of all of the state’s executive-branch constitutional officers and Kentucky’s judicial branch, to put our checkbooks online for public view in a comprehensive and user-friendly manner." The legislature, also divided between the parties, is likewise moving to put its records in the system. (Read more)