Budget

News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Budget, Tax

Report: Oregon gets a “C+” for economic development transparency

Oregon received a “C+” for making critical information about how governments are subsidizing business projects with taxpayer dollars readily available to the public online, according to a new report from OSPIRG Foundation and Frontier Group. Following the Money 2019, the organization’s tenth evaluation of online government spending transparency, gives 17 states a failing grade, while only four states received a grade of “B” or higher. Oregon is ranked #5 in the country.

Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Budget, Tax

Following the Money 2019

Citizens’ ability to understand how their tax dollars are spent is fundamental to democracy. Budget and spending transparency holds government officials accountable for making smart decisions, checks corruption, and provides citizens an opportunity to affect how government dollars are spent.

State and local governments spend billions of dollars every year on economic development programs in the form of forgone tax revenue and direct cash grant payments to corporations in an effort to stoke investment and job creation in a particular city, state or industry.

A review of economic development subsidy reporting in all 50 states finds that a majority of states fail to meet minimum standards of online transparency, leaving residents, watchdogs and public officials in the dark about key public expenditures. States should shine light on economic development subsidies by requiring the online publication of key transparency reports and inclusion of economic development spending in the state’s online checkbook portal to meet the expectations of citizens seeking information in the 21st century.

Following the Money 2019: Economic Development Subsidies

News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Budget

NEW REPORT: Oregon Receives “B-“ on Transparency of Government Spending

Oregon received a “B-” for its government spending transparency website, according to “Following the Money 2018: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data,” the eighth report of its kind by OSPIRG Foundation and Frontier Group.

Report | OSPIRG | Budget

Following the Money 2018

All 50 states now operate websites to make information on state expenditures accessible to the public. All but four states provide checkbook-level data for one or more economic development subsidy programs and more than half of states make that subsidy data available for researchers to download and analyze. These websites not only provide citizens with useful information, they are regularly used by citizens; in 2017 alone, at least 1.5 million users viewed over 8.7 million pages on state transparency websites.

However, this analysis – U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s eighth evaluation of state transparency websites – finds that despite continued improvements in transparency websites, states still have a long way to go in making critical data about state spending truly accessible to the public. State governments should follow the example set by the nation’s “Leading States” in enabling their residents to “follow the money” on state spending.

News Release | OSPIRG | Budget, Consumer Protection, Tax

OSPIRG and other advocates commend passage of House Bill 2191

A coalition of consumer, small business and faith-based organizations joined together to commend the Oregon Legislature for passing House Bill 2191, a bill that will provide state officials with new tools to combat the abuse of anonymous shell corporations in Oregon. In recent years, Oregon’s lax incorporation transparency laws and lack of tools for law enforcement have made the state a hotbed for the use of shell corporations for criminal activity including money laundering, consumer scams and tax evasion.

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