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We made sure asking for public information wasn’t a crime by successfully defending moms who were being sued by their school district for requesting school records.

Home » Issues & Cases
  • Education Reform

    Too often, the traditional public-school model fails students and teachers. Charter schools, scholarship tax credits, and merit pay are giving students a better education and teachers a better career.

  • Healthcare Freedom

    The problems in healthcare are not a result of too little government, but too much government. Rather than mandating one-size fits all coverage, the focus should be on increasing the choices available to individuals.

  • Tax Reform

    Americans are a hard-working bunch and should keep what they earn. Our ideas for tax reform reduce the burden of taxes while ensuring governments have the resources to focus on core responsibilities.

  • Campaign Finance & Election

    Campaigns should be open and free, not prone to manipulation through government financing schemes. And now the U.S. Supreme Court agrees.

  • Government Spending

    No government has ever spent its way to prosperity. Our proposals help governments be fiscally responsible so citizens can be prosperous.

  • Constitutional Rights

    Government can be freedom’s best friend when it protects citizens’ constitutional rights. Here’s how the Goldwater Institute is ensuring your rights are protected.

  • Property Rights

    Your home is your castle—unless the government thinks it should be a shopping center. Learn how citizens and local governments can protect homes and businesses from government takeovers.

  • Issues & Cases

    School children, taxpayers, entrepreneurs—government laws and regulations affect us all. Learn more about the issues and cases that matter to you here.

  • State Powers

    The states are powerful enough to stand up to the federal government when it violates citizens’ rights. Learn how we can better leverage the power of states.

  • City & Local Reform

    It turns out that you can fight town hall. Here’s how we’re standing up for local citizens and winning.

  • Free Speech

    Sure, talk is cheap. But the right to talk is priceless. Here’s what Goldwater is doing to defend that right.

  • Business & Job Creation

    Businesses need a friendly and fair business environment so they can compete, innovate, and create jobs. We’re keeping politicians from playing favorites by offering special deals and tax breaks to the favored few.

  • Government Accountability

    Back-room deals and closed doors are not the stuff of free governments. Our work is making governments more transparent and accountable to citizens.

  • Workplace Freedom

    When it comes to unionizing, workers should be free of intimidation. The Goldwater Institute’s Save Our Secret Ballot effort is ensuring workers have anonymous ballots in union votes.

  • Government Red Tape

    Whether it’s layers of licensing requirements or endless red tape, government rules and regulations can stifle business. Learn how we can free up entrepreneurs.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: A Review of Arizona’s Fiscal Transparency Efforts

Arizona government entered modern financial transparency in 2008 when the legislature approved the launch of the Arizona Open Books website. When the website came online in 2011, the state essentially opened its checkbook by posting individual transactions to the web. This report assesses the usefulness of Arizona’s Open Books website and reveals questionable financial transactions. The Arizona Open Books website proved useful in exposing some suspicious transactions, but transparency in Arizona still needs improvement. We were able to use the website to find wasteful spending on nearly $2.5 million worth of “Awards” and another $1 million on “Entertainment and Promotional” items in 2013. But the site did not provide sufficient detail to assess the legitimacy of suspicious transactions lumped into catch-all codes like “Other Professional Outside Services,” which totaled $289 million in 2013 alone. The bottom line is that while most of the state’s individual expenditures are posted for public scrutiny, it is still possible for waste, fraud, and abuse to hide in plain sight due to vague or cryptic descriptions of individual expenditures. Curious taxpayers are treated to accounting codes and code descriptions that often bear little resemblance to the purpose for which funds are expended. In addition, payroll abuses can be hidden because payroll is kept secret under current law even though public employee salaries are subject to open records. If Arizona’s state government is to be truly transparent, each transaction posted on Arizona Open Books needs an accompanying memo line to give citizens accurate descriptions of the specific purpose of each transaction. Sourcing of expenditures should be provided as well. Finally, specific details about the public payroll should be a centerpiece of Arizona Open Books.

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: A Review of Arizona’s Fiscal Transparency Efforts

Arizona government entered modern financial transparency in 2008 when the legislature approved the launch of the Arizona Open Books website. When the website came online in 2011, the state essentially opened its checkbook by posting individual transactions to the web. This report assesses the usefulness of Arizona’s Open Books website and reveals questionable financial transactions. The Arizona Open Books website proved useful in exposing some suspicious transactions, but transparency in Arizona still needs improvement. We were able to use the website to find wasteful spending on nearly $2.5 million worth of “Awards” and another $1 million on “Entertainment and Promotional” items in 2013. But the site did not provide sufficient detail to assess the legitimacy of suspicious transactions lumped into catch-all codes like “Other Professional Outside Services,” which totaled $289 million in 2013 alone. The bottom line is that while most of the state’s individual expenditures are posted for public scrutiny, it is still possible for waste, fraud, and abuse to hide in plain sight due to vague or cryptic descriptions of individual expenditures. Curious taxpayers are treated to accounting codes and code descriptions that often bear little resemblance to the purpose for which funds are expended. In addition, payroll abuses can be hidden because payroll is kept secret under current law even though public employee salaries are subject to open records. If Arizona’s state government is to be truly transparent, each transaction posted on Arizona Open Books needs an accompanying memo line to give citizens accurate descriptions of the specific purpose of each transaction. Sourcing of expenditures should be provided as well. Finally, specific details about the public payroll should be a centerpiece of Arizona Open Books.

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