Taxpayer Safeguards

ARIZONA EARNS HIGH MARKS FOR TRANSPARENCY—Over the past few years, Arizona has gone from earning an “F” to earning an “B“ for government spending transparency, yet there is still room for improvement.

ARIZONA AT HEAD OF REPORTING SPENDING

The ability to see how government uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy. Transparency in government spending checks corruption, bolsters public confidence, and promotes fiscal responsibility.

In 2010, Arizona’s Department of Administration created a new transparency website called OpenBooks.az.gov. This website allows residents to monitor most state expenditures at the checkbook level.

The state can still do more to shine light on its expenditures. While the website tracks some subsidies in the form of grants and tax credits — and in some cases shows the number of jobs and investments that companies are expected to deliver — many subsidy programs lack this detail and no information is provided on the amount of tax credits given to individual companies.

Arizona decision makers should require comprehensive information on economic subsidies is added to this website.

TRANSPARENCY 2.0 STANDARDS

Today, you can go online to track packages in the mail, check your cell phone minutes, and compare real estate prices nationwide. Yet government spending continues to be analog. What we're calling Transparency 2.0 is a new standard of comprehensive, online one-stop, one-click budget accountability and accessibility.

The following are the Transparency 2.0 standards for comprehensive, one-stop, one-click budget accountability and accessibility:

Comprehensive: A user-friendly Web portal provides residents the ability to search detailed information about government contracts, spending, subsidies, and tax expenditures for all government entities.

One-Stop: Residents can search all government expenditures on a single website.

One-Click Searchable: Residents can search data with a single query or browse common-sense categories. Residents can sort data on government spending by recipient, amount, legislative district, granting agency, purpose, or keyword. Residents can also download data to conduct detailed off-line analyses.

Issue updates

Report | Arizona PIRG | Budget, Tax

Toward Common Ground for the Supercommittee

The National Taxpayers Union (NTU) and the Arizona Public Interest Research Group (Arizona PIRG) have joined together to propose to the Supercommittee and to Congress as a whole a list of more than 50 recommendations to reform our future spending commitments. If enacted in their entirety, these changes would save taxpayers more than $1 trillion over the coming decade.

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Media Hit | Budget

Arizona Republic: Governor Brewer's panel urges privatization

When recommendations from Gov. Jan Brewer's Commission on Privatization and Efficiency were issued, Serena Unrein of Arizona PIRG urged transparency and accountability to protect public tax dollars.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG | Budget

Advocates Recommend Caution upon issuance of Governor's privatization report

Statement of Arizona PIRG Public Interest Advocate Serena Unrein on the final report of the Arizona Commission on Privatization and Efficiency (COPE)

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News Release | Arizona PIRG | Budget, Tax

Arizona Commerce Authority Given Transparency Recommendations

On July 1st, 2011, the Arizona Commerce Authority officially will begin operations. The Authority, a quasi-public entity, will replace the Arizona Department of Commerce and dispense taxpayer-funded subsidies to private businesses. Governor Brewer and the Arizona legislature approved this change on February 16, 2011.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG | Budget

Supporters Cheer Passage of Budget Transparency Bills

Proponents of government transparency had reason to celebrate Governor Jan Brewer’s signature on two pieces of legislation aimed at increasing the budget transparency of local governments. House Bills 2421 and 2422 will make improvements in how well school districts and local governments provide budget information online.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG | Budget

New Bill Increases Transparency for Local Government Budgets

Testimony given to Arizona House Committee on Government by Serena Unrein, Arizona PIRG Public Interest Advocate, on House Bill 2422, which increases budget transparency for counties, cities, and towns in Arizona.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG | Budget

Bill Heard to Improve School District Budget Transparency

Testimony given to Arizona House Committee on Education by Serena Unrein, Arizona PIRG Public Interest Advocate, on House Bill 2421, which increases school district budget transparency.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Budget

New State Budget Transparency Website Launched

Today the Arizona Department of Administration (ADOA) launched a state budget transparency website called Arizona OpenBooks.  Legislation passed in 2008 required the website to be launched by January 1, 2011.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG | Budget

Groups Call on Legislature to Increase Transparency on Tax Credits

Children’s Action Alliance and the Arizona Public Interest Research Group (Arizona PIRG) recommended the repeal of laws that prevent public disclosure of the number of taxpayers claiming a tax credit and the aggregate amount of the credits when the number of credits claimed is low.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG | Budget

Arizona Given a ‘D’ for Transparency of Subsidies in New National Report

Online disclosure of the names of companies receiving state and local tax breaks, cash grants and other subsidies for job creation is becoming the norm around the country, but Arizona’s performance is disappointing, according to a report published today by Good Jobs First, a non-profit, non-partisan research center based in Washington, DC.

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