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State website aims to show how Missouri’s government spends money

Screenshot from Show-Me Checkbook's home page
Screenshot from Show-Me Checkbook's home page

Missouri has a website designed to make government more transparent, according to state Treasurer Eric Schmitt.

Schmitt’s office recently launched ShowMeCheckbook.mo.gov, which he calls “a one-stop shop” for information on state finances, revenue, payroll, expenses and cash flow.

“This new website is powered by over 20 million individual data points, boiled down into easy-to-use charts, graphs, and search functions – this makes it one of the most comprehensive state financial-transparency portals in the nation,” he said. “On the home page, you’ll find a snapshot of Missouri’s financial health, featuring information about our credit rating and top-level data on how taxpayer money is being spent – it also shows current income-tax rates.”

Schmitt said it’s more up to date and easier to navigate than the state’s older website, the Missouri Accountability Portal, which was launched in 2007 by Gov. Matt Blunt.

“When MAP went online, Netflix was still a DVD-delivery service,” he said. “Technology has changed, and our financial transparency tools have fallen behind.”

Earlier this year, Missouri received a grade of D+ for financial transparency and ranked 39 out of 50 states by the Public Interest Research Group.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt.
Credit File | Rebecca Smith | St. Louis Public Radio
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Missouri Treasurer Eric Schmitt.

“Frankly, that’s unacceptable,” Schmitt said. “Most existing [MAP] portals are disconnected from one another and difficult to use – it’s nearly impossible to find information quickly.”

He cites some “interesting things” on the new site which he said he was unaware of beforehand, namely, that the Department of Corrections is the largest state agency in terms of the size of its employee payroll.

Show-Me Checkbook does not include data from the University of Missouri system or other universities, aside from how much money the legislature puts in their budgets.

“But, we also hope that this will encourage other folks to take a look at how transparent they are with spending taxpayers’ money,” Schmitt said.

The new site cost $2,000 to launch, which he said consisted primarily of licensing fees.

Follow Marshall on Twitter: @MarshallGReport

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Missouri Public Radio State House Reporter Marshall Griffin is a proud alumnus of the University of Mississippi (a.k.a., Ole Miss), and has been in radio for over 20 years, starting out as a deejay. His big break in news came when the first President Bush ordered the invasion of Panama in 1989. Marshall was working the graveyard shift at a rock station, and began ripping news bulletins off the old AP teletype and reading updates between songs. From there on, his radio career turned toward news reporting and anchoring. In 1999, he became the capital bureau chief for Florida's Radio Networks, and in 2003 he became News Director at WFSU-FM/Florida Public Radio. During his time in Tallahassee he covered seven legislative sessions, Governor Jeb Bush's administration, four hurricanes, the Terri Schiavo saga, and the 2000 presidential recount. Before coming to Missouri, he enjoyed a brief stint in the Blue Ridge Mountains, reporting and anchoring for WWNC-AM in Asheville, North Carolina. Marshall lives in Jefferson City with his wife, Julie, their dogs, Max and Mason, and their cat, Honey.
Marshall Griffin
St. Louis Public Radio State House Reporter Marshall Griffin is a native of Mississippi and proud alumnus of Ole Miss (welcome to the SEC, Mizzou!). He has been in radio for over 20 years, starting out as a deejay. His big break in news came when the first President Bush ordered the invasion of Panama in 1989. Marshall was working the graveyard shift at a rock station, and began ripping news bulletins off an old AP teletype and reading updates between songs. From there on, his radio career turned toward news reporting and anchoring. In 1999, he became the capital bureau chief for Florida's Radio Networks, and in 2003 he became News Director at WFSU-FM/Florida Public Radio. During his time in Tallahassee he covered seven legislative sessions, Governor Jeb Bush's administration, four hurricanes, the Terri Schiavo saga, and the 2000 presidential recount. Before coming to Missouri, he enjoyed a brief stint in the Blue Ridge Mountains, reporting and anchoring for WWNC-AM in Asheville, North Carolina. Marshall lives in Jefferson City with his wife, Julie, their dogs, Max and Liberty Belle, and their cat, Honey.