We still don’t know the full implications of what happened at the Maine Turnpike Authority, but one thing is clear: It should not be allowed to happen again.

The management of the quasi-state agency spent lavishly on travel, dining, hotels and lobbyists while the rest of the state was going through a recession and nearly every public and private entity was engaged in belt-tightening. There is strong circumstantial evidence to suggest that the spending went beyond just sloppy business practices and strayed into misuse of funds for personal purposes.

That part of the case has been referred to the attorney general for possible criminal charges. But that probe can only look back, and lawmakers should also be looking forward.

Two bills before the Legislature would do just that. L.D. 1538 sponsored by Rep. Richard Cebra, R-Naples, with 50 co-sponsors, would initiate a number of reforms to give the Legislature more oversight of the turnpike authority. They include requiring the MTA executive director to be confirmed by the state Senate, instead of the organization’s board of directors, and requiring that all budgets and spending records be made available to the Legislature for review. The bill would also require that 5 percent of annual operating revenue be transferred to the state Department of Transportation for state highway projects. Currently, the MTA is only required to transfer surplus revenues, but has managed its spending to ensure that there wasn’t any surplus.

The second bill, sponsored by Rep. Donald Pilon, D-Saco, would reduce the length of MTA board members’ terms from seven years to four. This would bring more oversight to their performance, which this incident shows could use more oversight.

The MTA board has control over more than $100 million collected from the traveling public and should not be allowed to become an insular body. This is public money and the Legislature should make sure that the public is represented when decisions are made on how it is spent.