Mackinac Center’s “Show Michigan the Money” Project Prompts Michigan Department of State to Post Unprecedented Detail in Department Spending

Center’s transparency effort turns next to state departments that appeared to violate constitution in 2006

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Contact:
Kenneth M. Braun
Policy Analyst
or
Dr. Ryan S. Olson
Director of Education Policy
989-631-0900

MIDLAND — In response to an inquiry from the Midland-based Mackinac Center for Public Policy, the Michigan Department of State announced today it would begin quarterly posting on the Internet of detailed reports of the department’s expenditures. The Mackinac Center’s request to the department was part of the Center’s new "Show Michigan the Money" Project (see www.mackinac.org/10694), an initiative to encourage state and local governments to make their checkbook spending directly available to the public.

"The office of Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land has opened its books to Michigan taxpayers to an unprecedented degree for a state agency in Michigan," said Kenneth M. Braun, the Mackinac Center policy analyst in charge of the Show Michigan the Money Project. "She’s placed online the department’s payments to the penny for everything from building leases to safety equipment."

"I commend the Mackinac Center for its commitment to government accountability and taxpayer rights," Land said. "The Department of State is proud of its stewardship of tax dollars and is pleased to take a leadership role in this cutting-edge initiative."

The Center’s Show Michigan the Money Project was initiated on March 13, 2008, with the announcement of the "School Checkbook Transparency Project," which aims to open up the check registers of Michigan’s public school districts and place them in accessible and comprehensible form on the Internet. The Center has also made available the collective bargaining contracts for every Michigan school district and other key transparency projects as part of its www.MichiganTransparency.org Web site.

The Center chose to approach the Secretary of State’s office before contacting other state departments because, as Braun noted: "This department has a diverse mission, handling everything from boat trailer license plates to campaign finance violations. If they can open up their expenditures, other state departments should be able to do the same." Braun also acknowledged efforts by other Michigan agencies to improve transparency, including the online checkbooks posted by the Montrose Community Schools and the St. Clair County Regional Educational Service Agency, as well as the first steps taken toward spending transparency by the Michigan Office of the Attorney General.

The Center will seek to persuade other state departments to follow the Secretary of State’s example, starting with the Michigan State Police, Department of Human Services and Department of Corrections, each of which appeared to violate the state constitution in 2006 by overspending their budgets.

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