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 Receives Mediocre Grade for Enforcement of Job-Creation Measures in Subsidy Programs

Arizona received a ‘C’ grade in a new report that examined how well states enforced their own requirements for job creation in their major economic development subsidy programs.

> Keep Reading
Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Budget

Caution: Red Light Cameras Ahead

Privatized traffic law enforcement systems are spreading rapidly across the United States, but the public interest is threatened when private camera companies and municipalities focus on ticket revenues first and safety second.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Budget

Problems Identified with Growing Trend of Red-Light and Speed Cameras

A new report released today by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund outlines problems with the growing trend among cities in Arizona and across the country to outsource traffic enforcement to red-light and speed camera vendors.

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Media Hit | Budget

Cronkite News Service: Public interest group: Outsourcing traffic cameras has pitfalls

Arizona communities should put public safety ahead of profits when deciding whether to install traffic cameras through private companies, a public interest group contends in a new report.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Budget

New Report Shows Problems with Widely Used Local Economic Development Tool

New research released today outlines problems with the growing trend among cities to borrow against future growth and divert tax revenues as a way to attract economic development.

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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.

> Keep Reading
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 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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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

In a new report by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group, Arizona received an “A-” for its government spending transparency website. Arizona tied for 5th among the states in providing online access to government spending data.

Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

State governments spend hundreds of billions of dollars each year on everything from employee salaries and office supplies to professional lawyers and subsidies to encourage economic development. Public accountability helps ensure that state funds are spent wisely.

News Release | Arizona PIRG

A new report found that all but four states now post at least partial information online showing which companies are receiving economic development subsidies, but the quality and depth of that disclosure varies widely. Arizona ranked 32nd in its performance for disclosing key outcomes of economic development subsidies.

 

News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

Arizona received a ‘B’ when it comes to government spending transparency, according to the fourth annual report by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, Following the Money 2013: How the States Rank on Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data. Arizona’s official state transparency website, OpenBooks, received an ‘A-’ in last year’s report.

Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

This report, the Arizona PIRG Education Fund’s fourth annual evaluation of state transparency websites, finds that states are closer than ever before to meeting the standards of “Transparency 2.0” – encompassing, one-stop, one-click checkbook transparency and accountability. However, many states, including Arizona, still have a long way to go to provide taxpayers with the information they need to ensure that government is spending their money effectively.

Budget | U.S. PIRG

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