Transparency has been a key concept not only throughout this election cycle, but in the upcoming budget fight at the Texas Capitol. Where does public money come from, how are lawmakers spending it and what is the public gain from all those expenses?

In order to help answer some of those questions, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs has created The stated purpose of the site is to collect all the various local taxing authorities into one place to allow citizens to see exactly “who’s in their wallets,” according to Combs.

The spending can be tracked by agency (including public colleges and universities), by category or by the detailed purchase code. The top five spending categories are salaries and wages, employee benefits, professional services, rentals and leases and repairs and maintenance. The public can also see which vendors are selling to the state and how much the payments total. And on the heels of all the national controversy, Texans can also look up travel expenses on a click-able pie chart.

Almost as interesting is the state revenue search tool. The top sources are federal income, sales tax, investments, licenses, fees, fines and penalties.

On the data center page, taxpayers can find how much their school district spends and how this spending translates into student achievement.

Tea party activists will want to pay attention to the budget and finance tab since it reveals state agencies’ budgets versus their actual expenditures. It also delineates the expenditures by funding source.

In order to give the most complete picture possible, the comptroller is asking cities, counties, school districts and other special districts to post their annual budgets, annual financial reports and their check registers. All taxpayers should have easy access to this information. If your local government is not participating, you need to ask why.

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