The Secret to Making Tough Fiscal Choices: Open Government

Many people continue to be surprised that the voters of San Jose, Calif., a city with twice as many Democrats as Republicans, approved a public-pension-reform ballot measure in June 2012 with a nearly 70 percent yes vote. How is this possible in liberal California, despite stringent objections from public-employee unions?

Two words: open government.

Before the vote, San Jose experienced 10 years of cutting services to balance the budget. Thousands of city jobs were eliminated. Layoffs included police officers and firefighters.

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No agreement on whether personnel files should be made public

Whether Iowa's public records law should be amended to make public the reasons that government employees are fired sparked debate in a roundtable discussion Thursday at The Des Moines Register.

Advocates like Gov. Terry Branstad say citizens have a right to learn of a government worker's wrongdoing as a matter of public safety. Opponents like Sen. Matt McCoy worry changing the law would violate a person's privacy, unfairly jeopardize a fired worker's chances of future employment and potentially open the state to ongoing rounds of litigation.

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New Illinois law increases transparency, creates salary restrictions for transit employees

Illinois residents will now have easy access to online information regarding mass transit employee salaries as well as safety and budget information. Citing the benefit of increased government accountability, Gov. Quinn Friday signed a bill to reform the state’s mass transit hiring policies.

Andrew Nelms is director of policy and communications for Americans for Prosperity, a group that advocates for lower taxes and government accountability. He said legislation like the bill signed Friday could be beneficial for taxpayers.

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