by Ben Davis
While researching our 2013 Following the Money report, which assesses states’ spending transparency websites (click here for our 2012 report), I came across a few exciting tidbits of information disclosed in Georgia.
In recent years we have advocated that state governments make accessible the user fees collected from public assets such as the toll revenue collected from a highway. Knowing the dollar value of collected user fees empowers the public to voice their opinion on states’ budgetary decisions. However, disclosing this information is not a common practice
Georgia’s transparency website, though, discloses the user fees collected from government agencies. Georgia even provides information on user fees collected by some quasi-public agencies, which are excluded from the state budget.
The benefits of this disclosure are twofold. First, as the Georgia legislature works to balance the budget in the wake of lower-than-projected revenues, the online data on user fees give citizens tools to participate in important statewide decisions. Second, this disclosure establishes the framework to release data on user fees collected from public-private partnerships if Georgia decides to privatize any assets.
Moving forward, other states that have yet to adopt Georgia’s level of user fee disclosure should follow Georgia’s lead, and Georgia should expand its user fee disclosure to all quasi-public agencies.