The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration would be required to develop a website providing information on state spending and revenue under a bill approved last week by the Senate Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs.

The site would have to be functional by July 1, 2012, under a deadline contained in the legislation, SB 221.

The measure was filed by Sen. Jonathan Dismang, R-Beebe.

He said at least 30 states already ­operate websites that provide detailed financial information.

The bill would create an “online checkbook,” according to Dismang.

Lieut. Gov. Mark Darr told the committee that timely information on state spending is difficult if not impossible to obtain. During his 2010 campaign, Darr, a Republican, promised to create a state budget website with current information on revenues and expenditures.

The Finance Department helped draft the legislation, according to director Richard Weiss.

The 2009 General Assembly considered a similar measure, but it died when the Finance Department said it would take $4.5 million to develop and operate the system for the first year.

Weiss told the committee that the department now expects it would cost $600,000 to develop the site and operate it for a year, and then an estimated $300,000 a year to operate.

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