By Bill Mattox, JMI Resident Fellow
Under the category of “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott can file some news accounts of his recent unveiling of the transparency web site, www.FloridaHasARighttoKnow.com.  The site includes salary information about many key state employees – including those on the Governor’s staff – as well as records from the Florida Retirement System listing every government pensioner receiving at least $100,000 a year.While this proactive disclosure of frequently-requested information won the Governor brownie points with some “open government” advocates, at least one news report questioned whether Gov. Scott was selectively releasing information to advance his pension reform agenda.  (See: http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/gubernatorial/florida-gov-rick-scott-launches-public-records-website/1157906).Critics of Governor Scott considered it foul that he chose to highlight the 542 government pensioners that annually receive more than $100,000 from the taxpayers (rather than releasing data on all pensioners in the Florida Retirement System). Yet, many “good government” liberals in Minnesota would probably wonder what the fuss in Florida is all about.  That’s because Minnesota’s Democratic-controlled state government adopted a law several years back requiring all taxpayer-funded entities in the state to proactively disclose their three most-highly-compensated government officials each year. The logic behind the Minnesota law is simple – taxpayers can typically take one good look at these three numbers and determine whether or not there’s a problem in excessive government compensation.  If the compensation for the “top three” appears reasonable, then there’s presumably little need to pore over the data for other government employees.  But if the compensation for those at the top is excessive, then this is a problem in its own right – and it could be a sign of a larger, system-wide problem in excessive compensation. Frankly, rather than beating up on Gov. Scott (for disclosing nearly 200 times as much data as Minnesota requires), “good government” advocates in Florida ought to be promoting the passage of a Minnesota-style law here in the Sunshine State.  Because citizens throughout our state need to be alerted to the presence of any problems in excessive government compensation. Indeed, the last thing Floridians need right now is for runaway government pensions to be threatening the provision of vital public services, sucking more tax dollars out of the job-creating private sector, or undermining the pay of our state’s most meritorious teachers.