Legislators move to add accountability, transparency to infrastructure spending
With Governor Kay Ivey set to unveil her infrastructure plan Wednesday morning in Maplesville, key legislators took a major step Monday aimed at bolstering accountability, transparency and oversight when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars on transportation-related projects.
State Senator Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville) filed a bill that will re-organize the Alabama Legislative Joint Transportation Committee, which has responsibility for reviewing the long-term plans and budget for the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT).
Chambliss worked closely with House Ways and Means Education Committee Chairman Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa) and Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) to draw up the re-organization. Poole is expected to sponsor Ivey’s infrastructure bill in the legislature.
“There has been much discussion about the upcoming session, and specifically, funding for infrastructure. I support this effort to invest in our future, but I also want to make sure that we put effective accountability measures in place,” Chambliss said in a statement. “Appropriation and oversight are two of the primary responsibilities of the Alabama Legislature. The Joint Transportation Committee has been lax in that oversight role, and this bill will correct that by holding the Legislature accountable for doing our job.”
Chambliss’ bill specifies that the Joint Transportation Committee will meet a minimum of four times per year at the Alabama Statehouse and also mandates that members will be automatically removed for lack of attendance.
“How can we build subject knowledge and educate ourselves and the public regarding critical transportation issues unless we solidify a public forum that ensures transparency, accountability and oversight and that every taxpayer dollar is being allocated properly to achieve maximum return on investment?” Poole asked.
He added, “This bill goes a long way toward correcting that.”
Singleton welcomed Chambliss’ legislation as something both sides of the aisle should support.
“Accountability is a bipartisan issue and I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that our transportation dollars are spent wisely and efficiently. Infrastructure is important to our future and we must make the most of every dollar,” Singleton remarked.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn