Taylor wants to bring citizens, transparency to budget process
Legislation was introduced this week in the state House of Representatives that would set a mandatory public-review period before committee hearings or votes on all appropriation and revenue bills. House Bill 2386, sponsored by 15th District Rep. David Taylor, would require a 72-hour time frame for citizen review of fiscal legislation after the measures are first introduced.
Taylor said the 72-hour window would bring additional accountability and openness to the budget process, while providing a tool to share information and helping people participate in the way budget-related decisions are made in Olympia.
“The public deserves a reasonable period of time to examine the biggest bills of every legislative session,” said Taylor. “In the face of the state's unprecedented economic crisis, more than ever, we should bring further transparency to the manner in which we craft the operating, capital and transportation budgets.”
Taylor's bill would require that all appropriation- and revenue-related bills be posted on the Legislature's Web site, plus all related bill reports, committee analyses and conference reports. Amendments would require the same Web site posting and a 24-hour waiting period prior to any vote. Striking amendments would have to be made publicly available 48 hours before a vote.
“Engaging the public in the policy-making process is vital in guiding the decisions we make as lawmakers. The 72-hour waiting period would help ensure that citizens have the opportunity to examine the information and share comments and opinions with their legislators,” said Taylor, R-Moxee. “The news media also would have further time to scrutinize budget and revenue proposals and report to their viewers, listeners and readers.”
The bill provides that the 72-hour waiting period could be suspended, but only with a two-thirds vote of the legislative body or committee considering the bill, and by adding language to the text which acknowledged that “the people's right for a detailed review of the bill” had been waived.
“Before reaching an agreement Wednesday night, Democrat budget writers met secretly for weeks, excluding Republican lawmakers and public input. With only a few days left before the scheduled end of the session, we will have little time to thoroughly analyze what the majority party came up with in its closed-door meetings,” said Taylor. “If we hope to restore public trust in government, we need to shed more light on the process here, not less, especially on budget issues. The window of time I'm proposing in House Bill 2386 would be a good start toward encouraging citizens to take a role in determining how their tax dollars are spent.”
For more information, contact: Bill Taylor, Senior Information Officer: (360) 786-7074
###Washington State House Republican Communications