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Alford: Louisiana business groups see Ohio as model for tracking government spending

December 12, 2017
By Daily Report Staff
Originally Posted on Greater Baton Rouge Business Report

The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry will push legislators to adopt an Ohio policy model in Louisiana during the next regular session that could shed light on government spending, Jeremy Alford says in his latest column.

“It’s called the Ohio Checkbook, although in Louisiana a mostly-conservative coalition is pushing to rebrand it as the ‘Louisiana Ledger’ for implementation here,” Alford writes. “It’s basically a supercharged website that allows anyone to track and investigate spending by the state, local governments, school districts, pension systems and other entities.”

Though Alford acknowledges Louisiana already has something similar called LaTrac, he calls it “a clunky interface” created roughly a decade ago and notes that it only applies to state departments.

“Technology has changed a lot over the past 10 years and there are now a number of groups that want to put spending online for all levels of government,” LABI President Stephen Waguespack tells Alford. “LaTrac was good and groundbreaking at the time, but it doesn’t take things to the next level like the Ohio Checkbook does.”

The Ohio model is so searchable that anyone who wants can look, for example, at every single expenditure made by the City of Delaware on Oct. 31, 2017, using Google-style queries, Alford says.

LABI isn’t the only group that likes Ohio Checkbook and will push lawmakers to adopt a local version next year. Alford notes the Louisiana chapter of Americans For Prosperity has also already labeled it as a top issue for 2018.

“Treasurer John Schroder has been investigating similar concepts, and officials at the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association view it as an avenue for the government to rebuild goodwill with the public,” he writes. “Even Gov. John Bel Edwards is said to be ‘open’ to the idea, and the Louisiana Budget Project likes it as well.”

Read the full column.