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Stimulus transparency a work in progress — Federal spending Web site basic; state's improving

Ever since Steve Watson had his first job at age 16 picking asparagus, he's paid his taxes. And he's always wanted to ensure the government spends his money wisely.

So naturally, when the 53-year-old heard that President Barack Obama pledged a new era of transparency with his 3-week-old $787 billion stimulus package, Watson was glad he could log online and check how every dollar was spent.

National experts visit Oregon to testify in support of precedent-setting transparency legislation

Salem, OR — Amidst renewed calls from the Obama administration for accountability from private contractors on the federal level, the Oregon State House of Representatives is considering a bill that would far outstrip the contractor accountability provisions maintained by any state governments to date.

This Monday at 8am, leading transparency experts from the national Coalition for an Accountable Recovery (CAR) will testified before the Oregon House Business and Labor Committee in support of the bill, HB 2037, which would require private contractors in Oregon to disclose the number of employees and the wages, they pay. This is especially important with the federal government requiring transparency on jobs created through the $6.48 billion in federal funds set aside for Oregon under the recovery plan.

Building a Better Measure of Poverty Rates

States don't really know how many of their residents are poor.  The current federal poverty measure uses a forty-year old, widely criticized methodology.  It neither accounts for many of the resources poor families receive from the government, such as Food Stamps and the EITC, nor does it, conversely, factor in many additional expenses the poor face that are not accounted for in the federal measure, such as transportation costs, child care and local costs of living. 

Voting Information Project Opens Up New Ways for Voters to Get Essential Information

Although election advocates place great emphasis on reducing barriers
to voter participation, calls to voting hotlines show that obtaining basic information such as where exactly to vote presents one of the most widespread hurdles to voting.  Because of this, easily accessible voting information would go a long way in facilitating voter participation.