Runestad to introduce legislation to increase government transparency and efficiency

‘Anything we can do to make government work for the people is a positive step for our state’

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Runestad announced Friday he will be introducing legislation that would make government agencies, programs, committees and commissions more transparent and efficient by introducing “sunset” reviews.

“Michigan has been rated as the least transparent state in the entire country,” said Runestad, R-White Lake. “Putting in place a process to evaluate government programs is one of many steps we should be taking to increase transparency and accountability.”

Runestad’s bill would establish the Sunset Review Commission to evaluate any state-run entity on their reported benefits and costs. The proposed commission would take up a much-needed role in weighing the financial costs and benefits of government-run entities.

The announcement comes during “Sunshine Week,” observed nationwide each year to raise awareness regarding government transparency and accountability.

“Anything we can do to make government work for the people is a positive step for our state,” Runestad said. “Any state-run program, committee or agency should have to justify how they are spending your money. This commission will strengthen the Legislature’s ability to fulfill its proper role in oversight.

“Government entities need to be open and accessible. The Sunset Review Commission would be able to use subpoena power to acquire all information necessary to evaluate program efficiency and usefulness and make recommendations for eliminating wasteful agencies, committees or commissions. Michiganders deserve transparency, and they deserve a government that doesn’t waste their hard-earned tax dollars.”

In 1976, Colorado became the first state to use “sunset reviews.” The Texas Sunset Advisory Commission has consolidated 51 government agencies, and it is estimated to have saved more than $1 billion, returning $19 for every $1 spent.

Under Runestad’s bill, new programs or entities created by departments from new federal dollars under the federal stimulus bill would be subject to sunset reviews by the commission.

The current draft of the bill is being prepared for introduction and would sunset the proposed commission after four years.