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Vermont's Transparency Score Hits All-Time High, Could Still be Improved

Governor Peter Shumlin is touting big improvements to Vermont's transparency.
MONTPELIER - Governor Peter Shumlin is touting big improvements to Vermont's transparency. He announced a new A- grade Wednesday. The grade is given by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and backed by the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, or VPIRG.

It's a big improvement since the state received an F in 2010. 

A major contributor to the grade spike was the state's spending website, spotlight.vermont.gov, which combines spending data for the budget, revenues, expenditures, audits and more. Previously, this information was spread out on multiple websites and harder to get to.

We asked Governor Shumlin why, if his administration was focused on transparency, it rejected a public records request made by State Rep. Cynthia Browning (D-Arlington) asking for documents and memos related to financing for Green Mountain Care, the universal healthcare system set to launch in Vermont in 2017. Browning is currently appealing the rejection.

"I never said we were going to be transparent about every note we take," responded Gov. Shumlin. "I said we're going to be transparent about everything in government that we are doing. It's hard to be transparent about things that you're not ready to do because you haven't figured it out."

Rep. Browning responded: "The Governor definitely gets a failing grade for both transparency and accountability in my book," she said in an email. "I am confident that he has draft plans and possible scenarios, but he is unwilling to share them due to the political implications."

Eight states made it in the "A" category in the transparency ratings. Check out an interactive map here.
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