Springfield, Ill. – Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) was joined on Sept. 13 by fellow Senators Matt Murphy (R-Palatine), Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) and Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove), to support the launch of a massive web portal that will provide public access to more than 7 million lines of public employment data.
“Openness in government finances is always a good thing,” said Radogno. “If we are going to address Illinois’ fiscal mess, transparency is one of the first steps we need to take. This database is a very powerful tool in the pursuit of fiscal reform.”
Reform advocacy group For the Good of Illinois and its founder, Adam Andrzejewski established the portal, available at www.OpentheBooks.com, which makes public more than $236 billion in government personnel spending. Citizens can view online expenditures for salaries, retirement pensions and state-level workers’ compensation claims. All levels of Illinois government are available for search on the portal.
“We expect many transparency and fiscal reform initiatives will spring forth once the people have access to the information we make available at the portal,” said Andrzejewski. “This portal is by no means complete though,” he added. “We still have more information to obtain and post but we are well on our way. Today, saving Illinois from financial disaster will begin with a thousand mouse clicks across the state.”
At the launch, Radogno and other state legislators and local officials echoed the call for greater financial transparency. Radogno stressed the importance of public access to comprehensive data as a way to promote spending reform at all levels of government.
“Without transparency tools like this Web site, it’s impossible for most people to truly understand where our tax dollars are going; there is little accountability,” said Radogno. “I think this portal and other such efforts will be the impetus for legislative efforts to change Illinois government for the better.”
“As the chief sponsor of the Illinois Internet Portal law which put all salaries, contracts, tax breaks and tax deadbeats online, and also the law requiring the state to conduct a Medicaid recapture audit, this new Web site is the next step. Importantly, transparency promotes open government and usually results in saving taxpayer dollars,” said Dillard.
“What Adam Andrzejewski and his crew have done is use technology for the benefit of taxpayers so they are able to use this Web site at their own discretion and when it is most convenient for them,” Sen. Sandack said. “The launch of this site is a great reminder of the potential the private sector holds. This transformative initiative came from the private sector, not government, which demonstrates and reminds us that most innovation, growth, and prosperity do not come from government.”
“Knowledge is power and this will help taxpayers determine how much government they really want to pay for,” said Murphy.
For The Good of Illinois is a 501(c)4 non-partisan, non-profit organization whose mission is to educate, engage and empower citizens to demand transparent, accountable and limited government.