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

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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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

Group Issues Study to Save Taxpayers over a Trillion Dollars

As concerns mount of the government’s growing deficit, the Arizona Public Interest Research Group (Arizona PIRG) issued a new list of policy recommendations that would save American taxpayers over a trillion dollars.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG | Budget, Transportation

U.S. House Acts To Create Jobs, Put Nation On Path To Economic Stability

Arizona PIRG lauds the passage of H.R. 1, the American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act by the U.S. House of Representatives.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG | Budget

“Crisis Fee” Good First Step, But Banks Owe Much More

According to the Arizona Public Interest Research Group (Arizona PIRG), the “Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee” announced by President Barack Obama earlier today is a good first step toward paying taxpayers back for the money lent out under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Budget

With State Deadline Passed, Advocates Issue Own Transparency Report

According to the law, the Arizona Department of Administration (ADOA) was to issue a report by September 1, 2009, detailing progress toward creation of a governmental transparency system. When the deadline for the initial transparency report passed, the Arizona PIRG Education Fund issued its own report.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG | Budget

Bailout Transparency Improves, But Still Falls Far Short

The administration’s efforts to bring transparency and accountability to the $700 billion bailout squeaks by earning mostly “Cs” on Arizona PIRG'S latest Bailout Report Card.  While the grades are not impressive, they do represent an improvement from the first Bailout Report Card for the previous administration, which earned almost entirely “Fs.”

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