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

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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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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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 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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