The movement toward greater spending transparency in Missouri local government reached a milestone this week. A law requiring cities to submit spending records to the state was perfected in the Missouri House of Representatives—the furthest such legislation has gone to date. Perfection means that the bill, as amended, has been finalized by the entire chamber. Clearing a "perfection" vote is important because it often approximates whether a bill has enough support in the chamber for passage. My colleague Philip Oehlerking and I have been big proponents of ensuring that the public has access to this information, and the perfection of this bill is an important step in that direction.
And to be clear, the movement of this bill is part of a larger spending transparency reform arc. Last year the state began publishing its own spending online in a more digestible format, and legislation passed in 2018 now requires school districts to publicize similar spending details of their own. We’ll keep you posted on where the municipal spending bill goes, and whether cities will have to join other government units in Missouri in sharing their spending with the public. Such a requirement is long overdue.
If government can spend your money, they should be able to tell you where they spent it. And if they can’t, or won’t? That’s a problem.