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.

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

One million dollars. That's what the City of Phoenix spends each year just to remove non-recyclables from its recycling barrels. One reason is, as with many government programs, it isn't always simple for consumers to figure out how to play by the book.

Phoenix gladly accepts pop and milk bottles, egg cartons, and foam meat trays. But shampoo bottles, margarine containers, and many plastic plates aren't allowed. In other words, plastics 1, 2, and 6 are in, while plastics 3, 4, and 5 are out. Who knew?

On December 5, 2006, the City of New York banned the use of trans-fats in restaurants. Ironically, many of the experts proclaiming the dangers of trans-fats were the ones who urged us to embrace them as heart-healthy in the 1980's.

This time of the year, its tradition to deck the halls with boughs of holly. But Maricopa County courts have decked the halls another way with stacks upon stacks of files. Taking a welcome step into the digital age, Maricopa County's judiciary is about to embrace the old adage that less is more. Take court files for example.

Arizonans decided 19 ballot propositions this election, the most of any state. That's a lot of direct democracy. Maybe its time to ask how well its working.

Our states founders wanted the people to have direct access to the ballot. They saw it as a fundamental protection against unresponsive government. But if this process provides an occasionally needed corrective, its not the best way to make law.

Sometimes clichés fit.  Take the recent shenanigans at the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for example.  The court decided to put Arizona's voter ID law on hold.  We can't be sure of the court's reasoning, but the plaintiffs spent a lot of time explaining how grueling it is to secure photo identification. Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill.

This past session, the legislature created or continued more than 25 agencies, regulating everything from private postsecondary education to adult foster care homes. But well-intentioned regulations often make things worse, not better, for consumers. 

Complying with extensive regulation means businesses operate at higher costs, which can translate into higher prices for consumers and fewer jobs for workers. 

An analysis of Legislative Report Card votes in constitutional policy

The Goldwater Institute's 2006 Legislative Report Card shows both chambers scored reasonably well in constitutional government, a B- for the Senate and a C+ for the House. Even so, there were far too many setbacks for liberty.

This fall, Arizonans will have more information than ever about judges.  The Center for Arizona Policy (CAP) recently sent questions about judicial philosophy to 50 judges up for reelection.  By answering those questions, judges will provide citizens with a clear picture of where they stand on pertinent issues of law and justice. 

In the 2006 legislative session there was some good, some bad and some ugly. As the Goldwater Institute's just released Legislative Report Card reveals, in tax and budget policy the Senate scored a collective C and the House an F+.

The good: The legislature followed up last year's business property tax cut with a ten percent drop in personal income tax rates over two years and a three-year suspension of the 42 cent County Equalization property tax. These cuts return millions of dollars to Arizona households.

In 1969, Neil Armstrong captured world attention with his momentous walk on the moon. The Legislature recently took its own step by passing wine reform legislation, opening up competition in the Arizona wine market. That's one small step for wine consumers, one giant leap for economic liberty.