As a follow up to Dan’s CJ report this morning on the proposed internet web portal to make state agency and local government available to taxpayers and decision makers and in response to some questions about funding. As in, “great idea, love to do it but aw shucks, we just don’t have the money.” Well folks, the money’s there, the technology’s ripe, the commitment’s there (right? NCGA? Governor?). It’s just a matter of priorities.

The Governmental Budgetary Transparency/Expenditures Online provision says “In coordination with the State Controller and the Office of State Budget and Management (OSBM), the State chief Information Officer (State CIO) shall prioritize Information Technology Modernization funding and other available funds” to establish and coordinate the transparency Internet Web sites.

The House budget allocates over $6 Million in both recurring and non-recurring funds for IT Modernization over the two year budget (pg. N-1). The Senate budget allocates over $16 Million in both recurring and non-recurring funds for IT Modernization over the two year budget (pg N-5). Both say it’s “to support the State’s IT modernization efforts.” What could be more important to modernization efforts than open and transparent government?

As the budget conferees confer on a final budget and priorities for North Carolina for the next two years, they absolutely should make this a top priority as the Senate has already done. They need it as a tool to make decisions and taxpayers deserve it as they are asked to provide over $22Billion in funding for state functions next year and the next and the next and so on. It is reasonable to demand – Where does the money go?

It’s all a matter of priorities. Grant program for film companies and 35% tax credit to solar companies or government transparency? American Legion baseball stadiums or taxpayer integrity? $146Million in special interest giveaways or a user-friendly web portal with all spending and budget info online?

Data collection a problem? They can figure out how to redistribute millions of dollars in sales tax revenue calculated on who buys what where but they can’t post vendor contracts on line?

Unfunded mandate? If government’s writing a check, isn’t that information recorded already? Just let the taxpayers see it.

Enough with the “yeah, buts”. What was Governor Holshouser’s pipe dream in 1973 can and should become a reality in 2015. With advancements in technology, there are no more excuses. Not at the state level and not at the local level.  Let’s get this done and let the sun shine in NC.