Senator Bob Bacon introduced an amendment that establishes a â€œvoluntary pilot programâ€ for transparency. It passed and is now on its way to the full floor of the Senate. Senator [Ted] Harvey asked to open up the bill for additional testimony since it had been altered dramatically. Bacon, chair of the committee, said no. Senator Harvey also tried to kill his own bill. Harvey did say he would bring the bill back next year.
Bacon, a former educator, used words like â€œcruelâ€ and â€œfearâ€ to describe how school districts may respond to financial transparency. Fear is only present when there is something to hide.
Bacon also stated that he is concerned that school districts may not have the personnel to implement transparency online in a searchable format. If thatâ€™s the case, then perhaps the school districts can ask one of their students because I promise you, students know how. It does make me wonder who should be doing the teaching.
With the laudable exception of Senate President Peter Groff, the four committee Democrats – in addition to Bacon, Evie Hudak, Rollie Heath, and Chris Romer – decided to run away from real transparency. Though at least Romer acknowledged â€œthis is a trend that wonâ€™t stop” and that eventually “you will win”.
And now the obligatory quote from the bill sponsor:
“The intent of this bill was to have true transparency,” [Senator Ted] Harvey said. “But now, there is no assurance that taxpayers will be able to know where and how their money is being spent.”
Experiencing only a setback, transparency advocates – a swelling grassroots army – march forward.