Wednesday, March 7, 2012

House Approves Online Database of State Debt

Under legislation approved by the Oklahoma House of Representatives, Oklahomans could go to one online site to learn about the state’s debt and financial obligations.
House Bill 2857, by state Rep. Elise Hall, authorizes the creation of, where information would be provided on all obligation and revenue bonds, debt, bonds issued by enterprise funds and component units of state government and higher-education master lease agreements.
“Lawmakers and constituents alike have a tough time assembling all the information needed to get a clear picture of the state’s finances,” said Hall (R-Oklahoma City). “ will give everyone one place where the state’s financial data is easily accessible.”
Although much information on state obligations is already online, Hall noted that it is not provided in a concise, user-friendly format that can be easily searched.
“For some information, a citizen could go through a 90-page report and try to do some back-of-the-envelope math to obtain exact figures on state debt, but that requires a substantial investment of time,” Hall said. “Under House Bill 2857, that information would be immediately available and easily accessible.” would also provide the amount paid on an annual basis to retire the debt, the amount attributable to interest and fees on an annual basis and the complete debt repayment schedule. Historical data would also be available, as would information allowing a comparison of Oklahoma debt and obligations with those of the other 49 states.
Analysis completed by the Chief Information Office indicates the establishment of the debt presence web presence will require six months for implementation at an estimated cost of $19,800.
House Bill 2857 passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives on a 69-21 vote today and now proceeds to the Senate for consideration. 

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