As you may have seen in the rotating ad on SFReeper, this week SFR introduces the third version of our Muckrakers Guide, which we'll be using all throughout the campaign season to help you track the candidates (and the governments to which they aspire to lead).
Since Gov. Bill Richardson vetoed the dreaded food tax today, I thought I'd use that as an example of how to use public information and websites to expand one's understanding of a situation.
According to a press release from the governor's office, as well as various news outlets, the governor will deal with the budgetary shortfalls of not re-taxing food, in part, by eliminating certain earmarks in the law he signed to up the tax on cigarettes.
First off, earmarks means some of the money raised from the cigarette tax was intended for a specific purpose. What the governor has done, generally, is eliminated the special purpose so that the money generated can go into the general fund.
So how do we find out what these vetoed earmarks are since the media simply reported them as earmarks and didn't get more specific?
Here's what we do:
1. Go to the Legislature's website.
2. On the menu, choose "legislation" and then "bill finder."
3. We know the cigarette tax bill is HB 3 because it was numbered in the governor's press release.
4. Look for the final version, it's only available as a PDF—which I'll include here.
5. Voila. The deleted earmarks were for early childhood programs through a variety of agencies.
Strange that wasn't made more specific in the press conference.
Addendum: The governor's deputy chief of staff helpfully sent me a link to the governor's explanation of his veto. The message does detail the governor's reasoning behind vetoing these earmarks, which I'll excerpt from here:
In addition, I have vetoed distributions from the net receipts attributable to the cigarette tax to the county and municipality recreational fund, the county and municipal cigarette tax fund, the Public Education Department in fiscal year 2011 for early childhood programs, and the Children, Youth and Families Department in fiscal year 2011 for early childhood initiatives. These vetoes were difficult to make. Each of these distributions would be worthy of funding in good times, and I have championed early childhood programs throughout my administration. In these times, however, our desire to do good must be balanced against our responsibility to be fiscally responsible.
crossposted at muckrakersguide.com