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Jason Donofrio,
Arizona PIRG

New Fiscal Year, Same Budget Gimmicks?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Today with the start of a new fiscal year for the State of Arizona, the Arizona Public Interest Research Group (Arizona PIRG) calls 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.

“In previous years, lawmakers have balanced the budget using a variety of gimmicks such as selling the State Capitol and the Arizona Supreme Court,” said Serena Unrein, Public Interest Advocate for Arizona PIRG.  The State of Arizona received short-term payments when they sold these buildings, but now must rent them back at higher cost over coming decades.  “While leaseback deals may bring the state some cash in the short-term, it is a bad budgeting practice that will cost taxpayers much more in the long-term,” added Unrein.

The Arizona legislature is likely to face some serious decisions for how to fix its budget problems again this year.  Arizona PIRG urges lawmakers to make sure that any current or future tax expenditures and subsidies are thoroughly examined and accountability mechanisms are put in place to ensure that the state benefits from these lost revenues and outlays.

Additionally, since the ability to see how government uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy and efficiency, Arizona PIRG calls on our state government to prioritize launching the financial transparency website (currently scheduled for launch in January 2011) as soon as possible.  To ensure it is as useful to taxpayers as possible, the website should follow the guidelines that Arizona PIRG detailed in its Transparency 2.0 report, which include making the website comprehensive, one-stop, and one-click searchable.

“Budget transparency checks corruption, bolsters public confidence in government, and promotes fiscal responsibility,” said Unrein.  “The budget transparency website needs to be a priority for the State of Arizona as it gets its financial affairs back in order.”

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