Monday, June 16, 2008

Goldwater Institute: Government Transparency is Bipartisan Issue

Byron Schlomach, Ph.D

Two political rivals have united behind the idea of putting more information in the hands of taxpayers. John McCain and Barack Obama have joined with two other senators to introduce S 3077, the Strengthening Transparency and Accountability in Federal Spending Act of 2008.

This follows on the heels of a law passed in 2006 that created the website,, up and running right now and full of good information, as the Arizona Republic has pointed out. Among other pieces of information is that Arizona benefited from $5 billion in federal contracts in 2000. By 2007, that had doubled to more than $10 billion, with over $4 billion of that occurring in Congressman Grijalva's 7th Congressional District.

It would be pretty beneficial to have that kind of transparency in Arizona's state and local government. Instead, we have a state level system so antiquated that even though the treasurer physically sees every penny of money that passes in and out of state hands, detailed reports and breakdowns cannot be produced. Arizona's 2007 fiscal year ended in June last year, but the amount of federal funds expended in 2007 is still listed as an "estimated" number.

Arizona taxpayers deserve better. Unfortunately, the slow-motion dance to balance the budget and the debate over increasing our state debt has taken precedence. Perhaps in the future, Arizona's lawmakers, like those in other states, will give Arizona taxpayers this transparency tool and allow us to better hold government accountable.

Dr. Byron Schlomach is the Director of the Center for Economic Prosperity at the Goldwater Institute.

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