Research Group Says Texas Tops Government Spending Transparency List

Texas tops a new survey on state government transparency. What is the criteria used to judge how open states are about the way they spend taxpayer money?

Of all 50 states, Texas has the best online tools to help people discover how much public money was spent, and where it went.  That's according to The United State Public Interest Research Group. U.S. PIRG calls itself a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy group. The group's Ryan Pierannunzi says one big thing that helped Texas is spelling out its expenditures very much like a checkbook registry — with line-item entries that include dates and amounts. Pieranunnzi says there were several other factors, as well.

"That includes information on tax expenditures, economic incentives, grants.  Has a link to the state's recovery spending website, and provides the capability of giving feedback."

Texas scored 98 out of a possible 100. Pierannunzi says the state lost a couple of points for failing to explain the actual purpose behind each and every tax expenditure. Also, he says the state could do a better job at spelling out the proposed benefits of tax incentive programs.

"For example, the number of jobs that they're intended to create. Then, after the fact, how they actually performed.   So it becomes a way of reviewing performance, to make sure government is working effectively."

Other states that score high on U.S. PIRG's government spending transparency list include Kentucky, Arizona, Massachusetts, and West Virginia. The least transparent are Iowa, Idaho, Montana, and Arkansas.

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