The budgets of governments and schools are often large and complicated; accessing the information can be difficult and time consuming.

A state database, recently expanded, is a resource that can help citizens navigate state and local government.

The Indiana Gateway provided by Indiana's Department of Local Government Finance, the State Board of Accounts and the Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, includes extensive data on budgets, annual financial reports, debt management and other financial topics, including salaries.

The Gateway has been growing since it was started in 2006, and this year for the first time, salaries for such personnel as school administrators and township officials are available.

Salaries for the governor, state legislators, judges and other state agency workers are listed on a second site, the Indiana Transparency Portal, which launched in 2010.

To access The Indiana Gateway just google "Indiana Gateway" and follow the prompts. For the Transparency Portal, google "Indiana Transparency Portal" and, again, follow the prompts

These two websites aren't the easiest to maneuver, but those who make the effort can learn a great amount about revenue and expenditures in our community and compare those figures to what's happening other places throughout the state.

The General Assembly appeared to embrace the benefit of this tool by passing S.B. 162 earlier this session. The bill would require incentives provided by the Indiana Economic Development Corp. to businesses to be a matter of public record. If the governor signs it, which he has signaled he will, that information will be added to the Transparency Portal.

The Transparency Portal currently receives some 325 visits a day. Hoosiers should turn both to it and the Indiana Gateway in droves to keep track of how their tax dollars are being spent.