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Republican lawmakers call for more transparency in state government

Republican Senate leaders introduced a series of legislative proposals Thursday they say will increase transparency and accountability.

HARTFORD, Conn. — March 16 is Freedom of Information Day and Republican lawmakers are using it to call for more transparency from the state government. 

“This is an example of what Republican government would look like,” said Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly during a press conference at the Legislative Office Building.

Republican Senate leaders introduced a series of legislative proposals Thursday they say will increase transparency and accountability, ranging from establishing a State Accountability Office to requiring quarterly reports from the executive branch to the legislature. 

“We hear that word a lot, but transparency should not be on a need-to-know basis,” State Sen. Tony Hwang (R-Fairfield) said. “It should be full transparency and accountability of where every taxpayer dollar is going.” 

GOP lawmakers claim the state government isn’t being transparent with where taxpayer dollars are going.

“The money that we spend here doesn't belong to the governor or the legislature,” said State Sen. Eric Berthel (R-Watertown). “It's money from the people.” 

Thursday the lawmakers introduced a new set of legislative proposals they believe will keep Connecticut accountable. 

“These are not extreme ideas,” Kelly added. “This is common sense.” 

One of the proposals would establish a State Accountability Office led by two chief accountability officers, one from each party. 

These “accountability officers” would help prevent and detect waste in public spending, recommend policies, report to the attorney general and chief state's attorney, and submit an annual summary report of their findings.

“So when it comes to accountability, it is not just common sense,” Gwen Samuel, founder and president of the Connecticut Parents Union continued. “It is the right sense. It is the right thing to do.”

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Senate Republicans’ other ideas include requirements ahead of the state’s influx of more than $5 billion in federal infrastructure funds. 

They want to mandate quarterly reporting by the state Department of Transportation and provide detailed project progress on CT DOT’s website. 

These transportation-related ideas are the only ones actually proposed in a bill this session.

“We're asking our colleagues, we're looking for friends to join us,” said Kelly. “We think it's a good idea and we think good ideas find friends.” 

The one accountability bill, Senate Bill 178, is currently in the Transportation Committee. It did have a public hearing two weeks ago. 

Republicans say the other ideas will be introduced as possible amendments to other bills this session. 

Senate Democrats declined to comment.

Emma Wulfhorst is a political reporter for FOX61 News. She can be reached at ewulfhorst@fox61.com. Follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


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