FOLLOWING THE MONEY 2016: NEW REPORT RANKS ALL FIFTY STATES ON GOVERNMENT SPENDING TRANSPARENCY
A new report by the United States Public Interest Research Group found that New Mexico falls in the middle of states for online disclosure of government spending. This seventh annual evaluation of state transparency websites finds that states continue to make progress toward comprehensive, one-stop, one-click transparency and accountability for state government spending. While many states have made significant advancements, some lag behind, with New Mexico landing somewhere in between.
Ten states, including New Mexico, are “Middling” in online spending transparency, with generally comprehensive and easy-to-access checkbook-level spending information, but more limited information on subsidies or other off-budget expenditures. State governments spend hundreds of billions of dollars each year through contracts for goods and services, tax breaks to encourage economic development, and other expenditures. Public accountability helps ensure that state funds are spent as wisely as possible.
“As tax day approaches, millions of Americans will write checks to their state governments. Citizens deserve to be able to follow their tax dollars, from the most minor state expenditures to the most major development subsidies,” said Michelle Surka, program associate with U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund.
Practically speaking, public information is not truly accessible unless it is online. Government spending transparency websites give citizens and government officials the ability to monitor many aspects of state spending in order to save money, prevent corruption, reduce potential abuse of taxpayer dollars, and encourage the achievement of a wide variety of public policy goals.
Also of note, the report found that state spending transparency is a non-partisan issue. The report compared transparency scores against party control of Governors’ offices and the state legislatures. For neither measure did higher levels of spending transparency correspond to Republican or Democratic control.