Vermont politics is not very transparent

by Robert Maynard

The Ethan Allen Institute has a “Vermont Transparency Project,” which seeks to inform Vermonters on matters such as:

    • Where and how government spends our tax dollars
    • Where and how government raises those tax dollars
    • How your legislators voted on important legislation
    • How Vermonters finance public K-12 education
    • How the state’s budget process works
    • How to access state employee salaries and union contracts
    • The state’s long run fiscal prospects
    • How to use the state Open Records Law
    • How to read Vermont Supreme Court decisions

In addtion to this effort, the Campaign for Vermont has a “Achieving Accountability“site, which aims at: “Transforming State Government into a Modern, Transparent 21st Century System.”  In both cases, there is an effort to address the issue of transparency in Vermont’s state government.  As it turns out, the concern certainly is warranted.  According to a recent Vermont Digger article, Vermont scores near the back of the pact nationally when it comes to trsansparency:

A report released this week drew attention to some of the long-standing deficiencies in Vermont’s transparency laws.

The “Integrity Index” is a joint project of the Better Government Association (BGA), a nonpartisan watchdog organization, and an insurance agency called Alper Services. The index evaluates state law in four areas: public records access, open meetings, whistleblower protection and conflict of interest disclosures.

Vermont ranks 43rd, according to the findings. BGA notes that even the higher-ranking states have unimpressive laws on the books.

The highlighted sentence seems to be an attempt to justify Vermont’s dismal ranking.  The title of the article is: “Vermont scores low in national transparency law index, but no state is crystal clear.”   The relevant point is not whether others states have issues.  We all know that nobody is perfect.  The real issue here is that Vermont ranks 43rd in the nation on the key issue of transparency.  It is no consolation to note that other states are not perfect.  That just makes our poor showing even less tolerable.