The Source: Texas Scores Low on State Integrity Report
Citizens of Texas, this is your state government. You pay for it. You have the right to know what is going on. That means getting access to documents and records that can reveal how state lawmakers are reaching their conclusion. Also it can reveal how they are spending tax money.
It's harder for Texas to learn about its government and getting access to those important documents than in 37 other states in the union. According to the Center for Public Integrity Texas ranks 38th for systems in place to deter corruption, including open records.
David Montgomery, a veteran news hound in Texas and abroad, broke down the data for us on The Source. Working in Texas' capital as a reporter and bureau chief for decades he has seen all the tricks for how state agencies and elected officials try to get around open records laws.
From kicking the information to the Attorney General's office for their legal review (adding 45 days to the process) to simply denying information and making people go to court to get it, lawmakers and bureaucrats make it hard to get access to information that they can't control.
Whether that means corruption or just a general mistrust of the press is open for interpretation, but from Montgomery's point of view the state has been on the decline earning a D- from the Center for Public Integrity on its State Integrity study.
"Texas has what is widely regarded as one of the best open records laws on the books anywhere in the country," says Montgomery. "The problem comes with how state agencies respond to that," he continues.
What is the problem with getting information to the people who paid for it? What can be done to improve the system?
- David Montgomery, reporter with the Center for Public Integrity. Additionally, the Austin-based reporter was a Statehouse Bureau Chief for 15 years.