UPDATE: The Senate on Tuesday afternoon passed HB 3422 by a vote of 44-0. It now goes to the governor.
It’s already been a busy last week of session at the Oklahoma Legislature, but a couple of transparency bills have moved one step closer to being law.
On Monday, the House approved House Bill 3422 by Rep. Ken Miller, R-Edmond, and Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond. It adds more features and transparency to the state’s Open Books website for financial information. Capitol reporter Michael McNutt has more in today’s paper. HB 3422 now goes back to the Senate for final approval.
From the bill summary:
HB3422 amends existing law by requiring the Office of State Finance (OSF) to update the state’s Open Books website with “Open Books 2.0” by January 1, 2011.
Open Books 2.0 will be a more expansive, searchable online database that lists individual expenditures – regardless of amount – separate from aggregated amounts. The website must present the data in a standardized exportable format. Within 18 months of Open Books 2.0 being online, OSF must create an online archive for each fiscal year beginning with FY-11. The archive must be accessible and searchable to online users.
HB 3422 also peels back some of the secrecy surrounding the state’s tax credits. It expands the information collected on the claimants and brokers of income tax credits:
HB3422 also adds a new law that requires the Oklahoma Tax Commission to prepare and maintain a list of all taxpayers who have claimed any tax credit authorized by any provisions of state law and related to a tax administered by the Tax Commission. It then requires the Office of State Finance to make this list available on the Internet. The list must include the name of each taxpayer who claimed a credit, the amount of such credit and the specific statutory provision under which the credit was claimed. The list must be updated on at least a monthly basis.
However, it does not require the same disclosure information on claimants of the insurance premium tax credits, which are administered by the state Insurance Department. Almost $58 million in insurance premium tax credits were claimed in tax year 2008, according to the department. That’s up from $54 million in 2007 and $39 million in 2006.
That increase in insurance premium tax credits claimed came despite collections on that tax remaining fairly steady in those three years. Almost $166 million in premium taxes was collected in 2006, while $159 million was collected in 2008, according to the department.
Marc Young, Insurance Department spokesman, said information about the insurance premium tax credits is available from the department, but it is not required to post the information on Open Books. Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie, who worked on the tax credit language in HB 3422, said adding insurance premium tax credits to Open Books might come in a future legislative session.
School district spending transparency
This morning, the House approved Senate Bill 1633, the School District Transparency Act. The bill, by Sen. Randy Brogdon, R-Owasso, and Rep. Gus Blackwell, R-Goodwell, directs the state Department of Education to create a website for searching school district financial data such as credit card payments, instructional costs and administrative overhead.
Some of that data is already available on the department’s website, but it’s contained in hundreds of separate PDF files. That makes it hard to get a complete picture of school district spending over time and makes it difficult to compare school districts against each other. Here’s an example of one of the reports in the Oklahoma Cost Accounting System at the department:
Written by Paul Monies