Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway says legislation passed during the 2017 legislative session will improve government operations and efficiencies. Auditor Galloway worked with lawmakers to increase financial statement accountability and modernize county budget submissions.
Senate Bill 112 would increase government accountability by ensuring penalty provisions exist for local governments and political subdivisions that fail to submit required annual financial reports. Auditor Galloway has issued a series of reports showing up to 47% of local governments have failed to meet this reporting requirement. The bill, introduced by Rep. Donna Pfautsch, adds penalties with the intent of increasing local government compliance and accountability for citizens. Auditor Galloway worked with Rep. Pfautsch to pass a similar bill last year, adding penalties for Transportation Development Districts that failed to report this information. This year's legislation broadens the penalties to include other local government bodies.
"If a public body expects to use taxpayer dollars, they must be accountable to the public. My reports have identified a dismal compliance rate by local governments who have failed to provide even the most basic information about their financial management. When governments can't provide this essential information, they are failing to meet fundamental obligations to transparency and accountability," Auditor Galloway said.
“Our office worked to pass the Transportation Development District audit language for three years, and it has proven in just a short time that these accountability measures are effective,” Representative Donna Pfautsch stated. “I am pleased we were able to pass another tool for the State Auditor’s Office to stop bad actors in Missouri and ensure that taxpayer dollars are being used properly," Rep. Pfautsch said.
In addition, the legislation would streamline local government filings. Under a provision originally sponsored by Representative Joe Don McGaugh, counties would have the option to submit required budget documents to the State Auditor electronically. Under current law, counties must send documents to Jefferson City via certified mail.
"When government operates based on outdated laws, it does a disservice to the citizens of this state. Just as in the private sector, government must identify areas to increase efficiencies and eliminate unnecessary and burdensome requirements," Auditor Galloway said.
"This is a smart update in statute that helps Missouri better keep up with the times. Embracing current technology is not only cost effective, but allows for state and local government to operate more efficiently. I think we should look to do so wherever possible," Rep. McGaugh said.
These measures are included in Senate Bill 112, which is awaiting the Governor's signature.
The legislation passed out of the General Assembly during the 2017 legislative session and builds on Auditor Galloway's legislative work in 2016 to increase transparency and accountability for Missouri taxpayers. In 2016, Auditor Galloway also launched the online Show-Me Local Government Map to promote transparency in government finances and operations. Earlier this year the office released a statewide Transportation Development District audit, identifying concerns with taxing district operations. Other audits examining taxing districts throughout the state are ongoing.