To be informed participants in their governments, citizens must be provided with truthful and transparent information. States’ efforts to begin climbing out from their current financial holes must start with honest government accounting. Only then can responsible alternatives to place the state on solid financial footing be developed and debated. An informed electorate is essential to a democratic system of government, and citizens have not received the financial information needed to be knowledgeable participants in their government.
Responsible budgeting requires accurate and timely data. Accurate accounting requires all real and certain expenses be reported in the state’s budget and financial statements when incurred, not when paid. Truthful budgetary accounting must incorporate all current compensation costs, including the portion of retirement benefits employees earn every year.
- Lack of Transparency leads to big problems:
- Due to accounting tricks, balanced budget claims have given citizens a false sense of security, while states sink further into debt
- Citizens do not know the true cost of their state government, and taxes do not reflect the real cost of government
- Complex pension schemes (that citizens and even their elected officials cannot understand) have racked up state debt even further
- Voters have re-elected leaders based on claims that budgets were balanced
- Legislators have created new programs and increased services without knowing the true cost of current and future government spending
- Our representative form of government is being undermined because citizens have become cynical and mistrust their governments
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