The Arizona Legislature is advancing a bill that would require local government entities to create their own websites showing detailed information on revenues and expenditures.
The passage of H2282 in the Senate on April 19 came on the heels of a report from a research group giving Arizona a failing grade for transparency.
Senators approved the bill, 26-1.
The measure now goes back to the House, where its sponsor, Rep. Steve Montenegro, a Republican from Litchfield Park, is expected to concur with the changes made by the Senate.
If the House passes the bill, it will go to Gov. Jan Brewer for her signature.
Tucson Republican Sen. Frank Antenori explained his support for the bill by paraphrasing Montenegro: “If you’re big enough to tax, you’re big enough to let people know what you’re doing with their money.”
The bill would require local governments to operate websites that would outline all expenses of more than $5,000. The requirement would begin in January 2013.
It requires the information to be updated every three months and for the website to contain data for at least the past three fiscal years.
Prior to the vote in the Senate, the Arizona Public Interest Research Group released a survey showing Arizona received an “F” when it came to openness about government spending.
Arizona, along with about three dozen other states, makes spending data available on its websites. But it doesn’t provide the same level of detail as some other states, according to the report.
Some states, for example, even show actual government contracts.
Illinois has a portal devoted to financial incentives. That database shows the recipients of tax subsidies and development grants, as well as the number of jobs that were created by each project.
The report, which was released on April 13, noted that such analysis allows residents to determine whether tax subsidies and economic development incentives are effective.
Arizona Senate, April 19, H2282
Leah Landrum Taylor
Debbie McCune Davis