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Cost of Transparency: $0

by Christine Stuart | Jan 14, 2013 1:00pm
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Posted to: State Budget, State Capitol

The Connecticut legislature launched Transparency.CT.gov a few years ago to track state expenditures, but state Comptroller Kevin Lembo took the concept one step further Monday by launching Open Connecticut.

The new website tracks how taxpayer money is spent in several different areas, while the Transparency.CT.gov site only tracks state expenditures, grants, salaries, and pensions. 

“Through Open Connecticut we want to accomplish at least two things — we want to end the scavenger hunt for taxpayers by creating a centralized warehouse for financial information, and we want to help explain and break down the state’s financial processes as simply as possible,” Lembo said in a press release. “We want to help answer basic questions that the public may have — and deserves to know — about state government. For example, what exactly is in the state budget? Where did our deficits or surpluses come from? How much did we spend on a particular vendor or program? And what should we expect in future years?”

The new site cost taxpayers $0 and offers tutorials on things such as Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. It also includes seven sections that track everything from income to borrowing and tax credits.

STATE BUDGET: Provides access to the state budgets for current and previous years, annual end-of-year financial reports, deficit mitigation plans and results-based accountability (RBA) reports that serve as report cards on how state money was spent on certain projects.

STATE INCOME: Features monthly reports by the Department of Revenue Services on the amount of state revenue received, as well as reports on income tax collected by bracket and by town.

STATE BORROWING: Provides access to the state’s Bond Allocation Database, which contains information about projects approved by the State Bond Commission. This section also features background about the State Bond Commission, its members and how the bond authorization and allocation process works.

FUTURE COST OBLIGATIONS: Provides background and links to actuarial reports on the state’s various retirement systems and retiree health care (known as the Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) report).

FOLLOW THE MONEY: Features links to transparency.ct.gov, an existing searchable website maintained by the Office of Fiscal Analysis (OFA) that already provides information (from the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC)) about employee salaries, vendor payments, retiree pensions and other detailed information about state spending.

FINANCIAL FORECAST: Includes links to monthly independent financial forecast reports by the OSC, OFA and Office of Policy and Management, as well as links to fiscal accountability reports and consensus revenue projections.

TAX BREAKS & EXEMPTIONS: Provides links to reports by OFA and Department of Economic and Community Development on the cost of tax expenditures and evaluations on certain tax credit and abatement programs.

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