Five bills would put gov’t spending online

Some readers are able to use online banking or financial software to see where their money goes. State Treasurer Josh Mandel wants Ohioans to be able to do the same with their tax dollars.

“Taxpayers have a right to know how their money is being spent,” Mandel said during a visit to The A-T. “My goal is to create an army of citizen auditors.”

Legislation that would allow this has been introduced in the statehouse. House Bill 175, dubbed “Open Ohio,” has passed in the Ohio House by an 86-8 margin and awaits action by the Senate.

The bill would allow the state treasurer’s website to host the Ohio State Government Expenditure Database. Mandel said it would allow Ohioans to see how the state spends every penny, whether by the education, transportation or health departments, Bureau of Workers’ Compensation or Jobs and Family Services.

A group of related bills, House Bills 321-324, collectively called “DataOhio Initiative,” would allow spending by cities, villages, schools and townships to be available online at a new website, Participation would be voluntary, though.

That bundle of bills is stuck in committee.

In all cases, Mandel said, information already available to the public would be added to the databases at no cost to the departments or local governments.

Mandel said his goal is to see the bills passed by year’s end, with the databases running by January.

Legislators are on summer break until mid-September. Approving these bills should be a priority upon their return.