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

News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Budget

Arizona Earns an A-minus in Government Spending Transparency

Arizona received an A-minus when it comes to openness about government spending, according to Following the Money 2011: How the States Rank on Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data, the second annual report of its kind by the Arizona Public Interest Research Group (Arizona PIRG).  Included with the report is an interactive online tool that allows users to view how Arizona what is doing compared to other states’ transparency practices.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Budget

Following the Money 2011

State governments across the country have been moving toward making their checkbooks transparent by creating online transparency portals – government-operated websites that allow visitors to see who receives state money and for what purposes. Forty states provide transparency websites that allow residents to access databases of government expenditures with “checkbook-level” detail. Most of these websites are also searchable, making it easier for residents to follow the money and monitor government spending.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG | Budget

Watchdog Group Raises Concerns Over Lack of Transparency for Proposed Commerce Authority

Governor Jan Brewer and legislative leaders recently announced the introduction of a “jobs bill,” which includes a measure that would replace the Arizona Department of Commerce with a new quasi-public board called the Arizona Commerce Authority.

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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, Health Care

Review on Ombudsmen Offices in Arizona Released

The Arizona PIRG Education Fund released a white paper Mediating for Citizens: Ombudsmen in Arizona, which provides detailed information about the ombudsmen offices in the state.  Ombudsman offices provide an outlet for citizens to resolve legitimate grievances with government agencies.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG | Budget, Tax

Recommendations for Fiscal Stability Made to Arizona Candidates

With the general election campaigns now underway, Arizona PIRG released a set of tax and budget policy recommendations for gubernatorial and legislative candidates.  The suggestions include increasing state budget transparency, rejecting budget gimmicks, examining tax expenditures, and implementing public interest safeguards on privatization deals.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG | Budget

Arizona Bond Rating Downgraded in Part Due to Budget Gimmicks

The rating agency Moody’s Investors Service recently downgraded Arizona’s bond rating.  A major factor in the rating downgrade was Arizona’s reliance on band-aid solutions to deep budget problems.  The Arizona Public Interest Research Group (Arizona PIRG) has been calling on lawmakers to implement common-sense solutions for addressing the state's budget woes, rather than relying on short-term fixes.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG | Budget

New Fiscal Year, Same Budget Gimmicks?

With the start of a new fiscal year for the State of Arizona, Arizona PIRG called on lawmakers to implement common-sense solutions for addressing our budget woes, rather than relying on short-term fixes.  Analysts estimate that as the new fiscal year begins, the state already faces a budget deficit of $368 million to $1.3 billion dollars.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Budget

Arizona Recieves an “F” on Transparency of Government Spending

Arizona gets an “F” when it comes to openness about government spending, according to a new Arizona PIRG Education Fund report, Following the Money: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data.

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