California State Controller Betty Yee admits to paying 49 million bills last year. Yet, she won’t produce a single transaction subject to our public records request for line-by-line state spending.
Out of the 50 states, California is the only one that refuses to produce its state checkbook to our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com. Even though it’s home to Silicon Valley, the state government isn’t letting tech drive transparency when it comes to its own records.
It shouldn’t take subpoenas and litigation to force open the books.
Last year, Yee paid 49 million bills for about $320 billion in payments. If you can make the payment, then you can track the payment. The state controller’s office – whose job it is to stop waste, fraud, corruption, and taxpayer abuse – may be in violation of transparency laws.
In 2013, then-California State Controller John Chang rejected our public records request for the state checkbook telling us: stop asking because the records can’t be located. Today, six-years later – Yee is still parroting the same answer.
So, how is the controller even doing her job without access to the records she helped create? We reached out to Yee for comment, and will update the piece if she responds.
She’s charged with tracking “every dollar spent by the state.” Her duties include paying the bills and all state accounting, bookkeeping, payroll, and auditing– including financial and compliance audits and attestations.
Our objective is to empower citizens, watchdogs, media, politicians, researchers, academics – everyone – with the ability to give oversight to the massive budget. Here are just three critical issues facing the Golden State:
- Homeless populations: a 2014 state proposition taxed millionaires to provide funds for mental health services. Did San Francisco – home to 7,500 homeless people – receive its fair share? Last summer, we published an interactive map featuring 130,000 instances of human waste in the public way, which is in part connected to the state’s homeless problem.
- Unsustainable public employee pay and pensions: five-years ago, we opened the books and have captured 2 million public employee salary and pension records annually in California. The data shows that lifeguards in Los Angeles County make up to $365,000 per year. There are 10,000 employees in University of California higher education earning more than $200,000.
Read the rest at: No Checkbook