Republican state senator from Ceres says proposed bill promotes transparency

State Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, said Thursday that he will present legislation to increase state agency transparency.

The new bill would require each state agency, department and entity to provide the state treasurer with its employer identification number. It would authorize the treasurer to use those numbers to monitor state bank accounts and state money that are outside the state treasury system.

“Last year, we discovered that it was all too easy for a state entity to hide funds in accounts that could not be monitored,” Cannella said in a news release. “This new legislation will provide the fiscal transparency that Californians deserve so they know that the state is not abusing taxpayer funds.”

An example of such abuse was seen in 2012, according to Cannella, when the state’s Department of Parks and Recreation was found to have hidden funds and issued improper payouts to employees resulting in a budget deficit that threatened the closing of state parks.

As a result of the closure threat, an organization called Save Our River Parks was founded in Merced to raise $65,000 in private money to keep McConnell and Hatfield state recreation areas open during the 2012-13 budget year.

Cindy Lashbrook, the associate director with the East Merced Resource Conservation District and member of Save Our River Parks, said the organization supports Cannella’s legislation.

“Save Our River Parks is proud to stand with Sen. Cannella today to support this important piece of legislation,” Lashbrook said in a news release. “We would have preferred the money we raised to help improve our two Merced River parks to better serve our communities, educate our children, bring in tourist dollars and steward our natural resources.”

Cannella has made government transparency a priority and is a member of the Joint Committee on Legislative Audit, according to the release.