RALEIGH Rep. Verla Insko (D-Orange) filed a bill this week that would require lawmakers to put their name next to any earmarks in the state budget. The measure, H.B. 83, is a simple 10-line bill called Ensure Budget Transparency. Insko said she started working on the measure after an item was added to last year’s budget directing the University of N.C. system to establish laboratory schools serving grades K through 8th in low-performing school districts. She said she wanted to talk directly to the lawmakers who proposed it but couldn’t because of confidentiality rules with bill drafters. She now wants to debate H.B. 83 on the floor.”I’d like to have a public debate on this because transparency is really an essential part of democratic society,” said Insko in an interview. “Legislators need to be able to stand for election based on their record and when the public can’t see their record they can’t hold them accountable. Provisions go in at the last minute, especially ones that are controversial, and you need to be able to have a public debate on their merits.”Insko pointed out that the problem of privacy and anonymity in budget bill drafting is long-standing, having occurred under the Democrat-led legislature as well. The bill is getting applause from the fiscally conservative Americans for Prosperity.”Anonymous earmarking ends when the legislature passes Rep. Insko’s commonsense reform,” said AFP executive director Donald Bryson. “If legislators feel strongly enough about requesting taxpayer money for a special, localized project, they should be proud to sign their name to it. If legislators are hesitant to publicly claim the provision they have introduced, maybe it deserves a second thought.”The measure passed the N.C. House on the first reading last week and was referred to the Appropriations Committee.While it isn’t a specific budget item, it would affect the budget process, which is already beginning. Gov. Roy Cooper is pitching elements of his recommended budget to the media, with the full version likely to be delivered to the General Assembly in March.
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