Shaping A Government Accountable to the People
How our government collects and spends money is critically important. Tax and budget decisions are the most concrete way that communities declare priorities and balance competing values.
Unfortunately, government decisions about how to raise revenue and support public functions often fail to best advance the public interest. Too often, public subsidies, tax breaks or special deals are granted to powerful corporate interests at the taxpayers’ expense. When this happens, taxpayers are stuck with the tab, or public resources and services end up threatened.
It is not possible to ensure that government decisions are fair and efficient unless information is publicly accessible. Likewise, public officials and private companies that receive contracts and subsidies must be held accountable for delivering promised goods and services.
Transparency in government spending checks corruption, promotes fiscal responsibility, and allows for greater, more meaningful participation in our democratic system. Arizona PIRG Education Fund is working to advance these goals on a variety of fronts:
- Promoting public access to online information about government spending at a detailed "checkbook" level including contracts, subsidies and "off-budget" agencies. Arizona PIRG Education Fund's 2016 Following The Money report is the seventh annual scorecard of state's online budget transparency. This latest scorecard finds that states continue to make progress toward comprehensive, one-stop, one-click transparency and accountability for state government spending, but some states are lagging and in all states there are opportunities to expand transparency to include economic development subsidies and quasi-public agencies.
- Ensuring that companies that receive public subsidies are held accountable for delivering clear benefits or required to return public dollars.
- Protecting against bad privatization deals that sell off public assets on the cheap and diminish public control of vital public structures such as toll roads, parking systems and traffic enforcement.
Millennials and Gen Z make up the largest group of potential voters in the country. Historically, youth voters have been underrepresented in politics due to low voter turnout, but early voting rates and a swell of activism this year show that young people are posed to reverse this trend in 2020.
The Student PIRGs New Voters Project joined more than 2,500 partners across the country to celebrate National Vote Early Day, the first civic holiday to help Americans take advantage of their options to vote early. In Arizona, 50 students involved with Arizona PIRG Students called and texted thousands of their peers to help them make plans to vote. Dozens of student organizations, community groups, and faculty joined the massive outreach effort. Supporting first time voters navigate the process is critical in helping ensure they turn out.
In-person voting on Election Day is on the relatively higher-risk end of activities. That is why states across the country have been scrambling since the outbreak began to adapt their voting systems to accommodate more mail-in or absentee voting, while maintaining sufficient and socially-distant in-person locations. With less than six weeks before Arizona’s primary election and less than five months until the November general election, state and local officials need to keep that effort going full steam.
The majority of counties in our state recently broke their record for voter turnout in a primary election. The uptick in voters in these counties contributed to a new voter primary election turnout record not only for individual counties but also for our state. While we applaud the increase in voter turnout, we know Arizona can do better.
Tomorrow as part of National Voter Registration Day in-person voter registration opportunities will exist at college campuses, shopping centers, restaurants and other venues in Arizona and across the country.
Your tax-deductible donation supports Arizona PIRG Education Fund's work to educate consumers on the issues that matter, and to stand up to the powerful interests that are blocking progress.
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