In the news

Gov. spending transparency: Did Oregon make the grade?
Kelly Koopmans

SALEM, Ore. –  Oregon got a “B-minus” when it comes to openness about government spending, according to the second annual report of its kind by the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group (OSPIRG).

That’s up from last year’s letter grade of a “D.”

According to the report, Oregon is ninth "most transparent state" when it comes to government spending.

Ohio, North Carolina, and Massachusetts all scored a “B” average.

Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Indiana and Kentucky all scored an “A” average.  

See a break-out report on Oregon’s spending transparency using this interactive tool
The report grades all 50 states based on several criteria including transparency website contents, downloadable information, information on tax expenditures, and information on local and county spending, among eight additional criteria.

Oregon’s spending transparency website earned the state high marks.

The site has undergone several changes in recent months to allow users to search spending, download search results, and create charts.

According to the report, Oregon could improve its grade by increasing the amount of information about tax expenditures as well as providing full texts of state contracts on the transparency site.

“A B-minus is better than a D,” said State Representative Phil Barnhart (D-Eugene). “We have a new transparency website. The budget is all posted, but it’s still difficult for people to search and for people to actually figure out what it means.”

KVAL News asked some Oregonians to grade the state on spending transparency – scores ranged from an “A-minus” to a “C-minus,” but many said although they care about government spending, they don’t monitor it online.

“I haven’t ever tracked my tax dollars,” said Eugene resident John Sullivan. “I care, but I guess I just never thought about going online and seeking out the information.”

The Oregon Legislature is considering several bills being considered that aim to enhance the state’s transparency website, including HB 2825 (sponsored by State Representative Barnhart and State Representative Thatcher), which would add details about economic development tax incentives to the website. 

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