Governor’s executive order shines spotlight on how funds are spent
Governor Henry McMaster today issued Executive Order 2022-19, which directs state agencies to disclose online detailed information about the entities who are receiving earmarked appropriations from the FY 2022-23 General Appropriations Act. In addition, Governor McMaster’s order requires agencies to disclose how the taxpayer funds are spent, it prohibits the practice of providing funds in advance to legislators for personal delivery, and requires additional measures designed to increase transparency and accountability.
“Transparency must be absolute and uncompromised in order to maintain the public’s trust and confidence in their state government. Disclosure of the sponsor and recipient is not enough,” said Governor Henry McMaster. “With this executive order, we are providing additional accountability so taxpayers can judge for themselves the merit or lack of merit of earmarks in the state budget.”
For the purposes of the governor’s executive order, an earmark is defined as any non-recurring appropriation that is not requested by the agency to which it is allocated and is meant to be distributed to a non-profit organization, business, local government entity, or other external organization.
The executive order, which requires compliance with FY 2022-23 state budget Proviso 117.21, directs state agencies to take the following steps:
- Prior to disbursing the funds, state agencies must receive a plan for how the state funds will be invested and how that plan will provide a public benefit.
- State agencies that receive earmarked appropriations must make all available information on each earmark available for public view on the agency’s website – in real time.
- All appropriated funds must be delivered to the entity designated in the Appropriations Act, effectively ending the previous practice of legislators hand-delivering checks.
- State agencies must report back to the Governor and Executive Budget Office on their compliance with the directives in the order.
This order follows the governor’s May 16 letter to the members of the General Assembly requesting additional information on each earmark appropriation prior to the governor issuing his vetoes in the state budget.
“Without sufficient context, description, justification, or information regarding the project and how the recipient intends to spend the funds, the public cannot evaluate the earmark’s merit,” the governor wrote. “Moreover, no matter how deserving the project, the public must be confident that proper accountability measures are in place to ensure the funds are appropriately spent.”