State website aims to show how Missouri’s government spends money | St. Louis Public Radio

State website aims to show how Missouri’s government spends money

Sep 2, 2018

Missouri has a website designed to make government more transparent, according to state Treasurer Eric Schmitt.

Schmitt’s office recently launched ShowMeCheckbook.mo.gov, which he calls “a one-stop shop” for information on state finances, revenue, payroll, expenses and cash flow.

“This new website is powered by over 20 million individual data points, boiled down into easy-to-use charts, graphs, and search functions – this makes it one of the most comprehensive state financial-transparency portals in the nation,” he said. “On the home page, you’ll find a snapshot of Missouri’s financial health, featuring information about our credit rating and top-level data on how taxpayer money is being spent – it also shows current income-tax rates.”

Schmitt said it’s more up to date and easier to navigate than the state’s older website, the Missouri Accountability Portal, which was launched in 2007 by Gov. Matt Blunt.

“When MAP went online, Netflix was still a DVD-delivery service,” he said. “Technology has changed, and our financial transparency tools have fallen behind.”

Earlier this year, Missouri received a grade of D+ for financial transparency and ranked 39 out of 50 states by the Public Interest Research Group.

Missouri Treasurer Eric Schmitt.
Credit File photo | Rebecca Smith | St. Louis Public Radio

“Frankly, that’s unacceptable,” Schmitt said. “Most existing [MAP] portals are disconnected from one another and difficult to use – it’s nearly impossible to find information quickly.”

He cites some “interesting things” on the new site which he said he was unaware of beforehand, namely, that the Department of Corrections is the largest state agency in terms of the size of its employee payroll.

Show-Me Checkbook does not include data from the University of Missouri system or other universities, aside from how much money the legislature puts in their budgets.

“But, we also hope that this will encourage other folks to take a look at how transparent they are with spending taxpayers’ money,” Schmitt said.

The new site cost $2,000 to launch, which he said consisted primarily of licensing fees.

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