Editorial: Sen. Cooke’s disingenuous bill won’t save you money, but it will cost transparency

The Greeley Tribune: There’s something disingenuous at the heart of a bill state Sen. John Cooke, R-Greeley, is pushing in this year’s legislative session.

The measure, Senate Bill 156, is the latest in a long list of similar bills that have failed in previous years. It would reduce government transparency, cutting requirements for county governments to disclose expense and salary reports, as well as removing requirements in Colorado law that county governments publish such information in a newspaper.

Such a bill is bad for open and trustworthy government. That makes it a bad idea.

Here’s what makes it insincere: Cooke, and others who have pushed similar bills in the past, pitch the measures as efforts to save taxpayer money, a laudable goal. But the bill will do no such thing. There is no mechanism or requirement in the bill that the minuscule amount of money spent ensuring transparency be returned to taxpayers. In fact, the bill will only mean the money will be spent on some pet project of some politician. To top that, the bill will make it more difficult for taxpayers to know just how politicians are spending their money.

In the interest of full disclosure, we’ll note that The Tribune does benefit in a small way from the current law that requires county governments make an investment in transparency. Weld County spends about $30,000 per year with The Tribune publishing its reports. That’s a tiny slice of The Tribune’s overall operating budget and an even smaller fraction of the county’s $327 million budget.

It’s silly to portray this measure as a genuine cost savings effort.

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