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Florida budget transparency under fire by state watchdog, Integrity Florida

12:14 PM, Dec 7, 2012   |    comments
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TAMPA BAY, Florida -- Integrity Florida and the First Amendment Foundation have published a joint research report titled "Budget Transparency in the Sunshine State". Click here to read the report.

As reported by Mary Ellen Klas of the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee Bureau, legislative leaders are ready to shelve a $5 million budget-tracking program (Read more).

The program, a Transparency 2.0 website, already paid for with $5 million in taxpayer money contains state government contracts, spending, government employee salaries and agency budgets in a user-friendly website, but Floridians may never see it.

Despite calls from newspapers to "embrace transparency" and "keep shining light on Florida's budgeting", the Florida Senate says public access to the Transparency 2.0 website is not an option.

The First Amendment Foundation, an organization that has been protecting and advancing open government in Florida for over 25 years, and Integrity Florida, a nonpartisan research institute and government watchdog group, received a password to the secure web site licensed by the Florida Senate and developed by Spider Data Services, with the permission of the Senate and encouragement to do so from the Governor's office. Click here to read the findings.

Read more about what Transparency 2.0 could tell you if you could see it. The program, which is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2012, would save millions if state leaders provide public access to the Transparency 2.0 web site already paid for by Florida taxpayers.

Integrity Florida believes the state budget should be a statement of our priorities as Floridians, so the public should be allowed to see Transparency 2.0, develop its own budget priorities, identify cost savings, and submit ideas to the legislature.

SOURCE: Integrity Florida press release

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