LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Jim Runestad on Tuesday announced that he will be introducing legislation that would fight the influence of lobbyists and special interests by making the state’s spending and appropriations process more transparent.
“Before any taxpayer dollars are given away, we should know the basics when it comes to where that money is going,” said Runestad, R-White Lake. “This bill would prevent the state from spending money on any project unless we know who is requesting the funding, how it will be spent, and why the taxpayers should be paying for it.”
The bill introduction comes only days after The Detroit News reported the Legislature awarded a $20 million grant to a nonexistent business organization in this year’s state budget.
It was also reported that certain politically connected business leaders managed to avoid the state’s lobbyist disclosure laws by directly seeking financial support from then-House Speaker Jason Wentworth and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration.
“Michigan already ranks dead last in government transparency,” Runestad said. “But when it comes to how the government spends taxpayer money, it gets even less clear. Requiring simple, commonsense justification for that spending will help fight the influence of special interests and backroom deals in Lansing.”
In recent years, Legislative leaders have permitted grants to be awarded to special projects without basic information about how that money is spent, or even which legislator requested it.
Runestad’s bill is meant to mirror a federal policy that requires written documentation to justify any federal spending.
“I’ve heard Senate Democrats talk about government transparency and ethics reform for years,” Runestad said. “Now is their chance to actually do something about it. They should put people over special interests and make our state’s spending more visible and accountable to the public.”