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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ind. Gov't. - "EDITORIAL: Put the facts in print"

Here are some quotes from an editorial from the Marion Chronicle-Tribune, as republished in The Economic Digest:

It is stunning how little commitment there seems to be to government transparency in Indiana.

Free speech does little good if there is no free and available flow of facts on which to base such speech. That is the problem with the latest effort to bypass required publishing the public business.

Last year the Indiana General Assembly removed the requirement that local government agencies publish their proposed budgets and proposed tax rates in newspapers as part of the notice of budget hearings. That is to become effective this year unless our representatives in Indianapolis step forward to assure citizens are notified of changes in the tax rate and government budgets.

We urge citizens to contact state senators and representatives and let them know that the public needs to continue be able to find such information in their local newspaper. We know from experience in Grant County and Marion how important it is to keep tabs on government spending.

We do not think that posting such information online goes nearly far enough. The requirement that the information be advertised in local newspapers guarantees a level of awareness that keeps local officials accountable.

Many taxpayers will not go the extra mile of hunting down public notices on the Internet. In fact, relatively few will.Stepping back and being quiet about how money is being spent and how much would make life easier for politicians everywhere. We think that is what is pushing efforts to remove the advertising requirement from the public business.

The state legislature has a chance to correct this. We call on our lawmakers to reinstate the traditional requirement of proposed budget and tax rate publication in local newspapers.

We are also opposed to the effort by Indiana state Sen. Rick Niemeyer, R- Lowell, to eliminate the publication of the tax sale list of properties.

Niemeyer says it will save counties the advertising costs. Instead, the county would be required only to publish a short notice telling people what website to visit to see the property description or parcel information.

Such a law takes public notice and public service backwards when we ought to be looking at ways of increasing communication between local government and people who foot the bill.

Electronic information can be altered or removed easily and quickly. The printed page won't change.

ILB: The ILB has to agree. We saw an ILB post yesterday how easy it can be to erase history.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 29, 2015 01:19 PM
Posted to Indiana Government