Arizona scores above national average for financial transparency

When it comes to informing consumers about government spending and budgets, Arizona ranks high. A study by Chicago-based policy firm Truth in Accounting (TIA) scored the financial transparency of all US states and found Arizona to rank above the national average.

The study audited state governments based on criteria such as the accessibility of information online, the publication of information within 100 days of the government’s fiscal year end, an inclusion of retirement liabilities, and more. An independent auditor gave all 50 states his/her clean opinion and gave Arizona a score of 78, well above the national average of 73.3.

The score shows that state government actively works to make its budget and spending information easily available to state citizens. The International Monetary Fund highlights the importance of financial transparency, stating, “Fiscal transparency helps to achieve financial and economic stability, foster a well-informed debate about the design and results of fiscal policy, and ensure public-sector accountability.”

Financial transparency also helps workers to maintain fair wages. By providing historical data of personnel budgets and reports, workers can better negotiate labor contracts. Moreover, a higher score means that workers have to do less digging to find this information.

Websites like even outline the state’s daily cash flow. State Treasurer Eileen Klein explains that websites like this are crucial for tax paying citizens. “Each year the State of Arizona spends billions of your tax dollars from hundreds of different sources,” she notes on the website. “As a taxpayer, you have the right to know what the state is doing with your money.”

Arizona OpenBooks breaks down expenditures and revenue through myriad scopes, including by vendor, category, fund, and organization. The state updates fiscal information monthly to ensure that transparency lasts throughout the entirety of the year. Hence, even though the TIA audit only mandates the publication of information within the last 100 days of the fiscal year, Arizona strives for much more than that.

Even with Arizona’s high score of 78, it is still striving for more transparency. Utah scored the highest with 85, which is certainly in reach. The state and its representatives are constantly working to provide taxpayers with as much information as possible.

Ben Norman

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