JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — If you ask state Rep. Dan Houx, he’s got a bill that will be the “game-changer of the year.”
Houx’s HB 1008 orders the Office of Administration to construct a public report — to be published online — on specific projects that are either at least one year behind schedule or at least $1 million over budget to the General Assembly. State agencies and divisions would be required to submit relevant information to the Office of Administration.
“Government transparency is the most important thing we can do as a legislature,” Houx, a Republican, told The Missouri Times, noting he got the idea for the bill from U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst’s federal legislation.
“This bipartisan bill simply creates an automatic alert system for the General Assembly to address a problem before it becomes a bottomless money pit for taxpayer dollars,” Houx said. “Identifying projects that are significantly over budget or behind schedule allows the General Assembly and state agencies to better manage taxpayer dollars and prevent possible future boondoggles.”
The reports would include: a description of projects, explanation of how projects had changed, original completion date and cost estimate of the project, projected completion date and cost estimate of the project, any award or bonus the project has received, and an explanation for why the project is delayed or over budget.
Houx specifically pointed to IT projects as a broad example where missed deadlines or overspending could occur as technology changes. He did note construction projects, including the ongoing work on the state Capitol, don’t appear to be off-track as of now.
“Not every project that misses a deadline or costs more than anticipated is a boondoggle. Some larger projects may involve more than one fiscal year,” Houx said. “But the symptoms identified earlier can be warning signs of larger troubles, such as questionable expenditures, mismanagement, incompetency, and even corruption.”
Noting that his bill has “high bipartisan support,” Houx said he hopes his bill could bring more awareness to Missouri taxpayers regarding how money is spent.
“I think it’s the game-changer of the year,” Houx said. “It has huge bipartisan support, and it should fly right through the House and fly in the Senate no problem. It’s on what we call the ‘rocket docket’ — it’s moving very quickly.”
HB 1008 passed out of committee earlier this month and sits on the House’s perfection calendar.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a reporter with The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in March 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City. Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S. and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa. She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. Contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.