If you’re wondering how the state of Arizona is spending your money, you can now go online and find out. Thanks to a new law that required the state to build a transparency website, openbooks.az.gov came online last week, and offers a treasure trove of information.
A quick search of the website shows that the state spent a total of $33.6 billion in fiscal year 2010. Over half of that, $17.7 billion, was categorized as welfare payments. The state paid $972 million in interest charges on state debt. In the first three months of this fiscal year, the state has spent $90 million on interest. You can also find out just how busy the Treasurer’s office was during 2010 turning over those daily warrant notes. They made transactions that totaled in the neighborhood of $94 billion to keep the state financially afloat.
Openbooks.az.gov has taken Arizona from one of the least transparent states to, perhaps, one of the top 10. While the site is just a beginning and could use some refinements, it offers policymakers, legislators, and taxpayers important fiscal information, especially as the state looks for ways to rein in spending.
For years the Goldwater Institute has been calling for greater financial transparency and accountability at both the state and local levels. Thanks to openbooks.az.gov, we will now be able to more closely monitor how governments throughout the state spend our money.
Dr. Byron Schlomach is director of the Goldwater Institute’s Center for Economic Prosperity.
Goldwater Institute: Government transparency has bright future in Arizona
Goldwater Institute: Piercing the Fog: A Call for Greater Transparency in State and Local Government
Arizona General Accounting Office: Arizona Openbooks