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 | 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 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

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

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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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 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.

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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