Campaign for Budget Transparency

IMPROVING TRANSPARENCY, IMPROVING ACCOUNTABILITY—The ability to see how government collects and spends money is fundamental to a thriving, participatory democracy.

Let The Public Follow the Money

Public budgets are the most concrete expression of public values and priorities—articulated in dollars and cents. As states grapple with difficult decisions to make budgetary ends meet, opening the state checkbook to the public provides an important tool that allows both citizens and civil servants to make informed choices.

Unfortunately, too often public subsidies, tax breaks or special deals are granted to powerful corporate interests at the taxpayers’ expense. When this happens, Massachusetts residents are stuck with the tab, or public resources and services end up threatened.

Transparency in government spending checks corruption, promotes fiscal responsibility and allows for greater, more meaningful participation in our democratic system.

MASSPIRG is working to make all government spending and budgeting fully transparent, on an easy-to-use and comprehensive website.

While the Commonwealth has made significant improvements since we started our campaign in providing public access to state spending and revenue on the Transparency Massachusetts website, even earning an A in our Following the Money 2015 report,  there is still more to do, including providing more budget information on all quasi-public agencies, tax expenditures, and municipalities, as well as access to all contracts.

Issue updates

Report | MASSPIRG | Budget, Tax

Picking Up the Tab 2013

Off Shore Tax Havens Cost Average Massachusetts Taxpayers $1,542 a Year.

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Media Hit | Budget

Report: Bay State website gets good transparency grade

Massachusetts ranked #2 in making state spending transparent.

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News Release | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Budget

MA Receives an “A-” in Annual Report on Transparency of Government Spending

 

“State governments across the country continue to be more transparent about where the money goes, extending checkbook-level disclosure of data on spending to contracting, tax subsidies, development incentives and other expenditures,” said Deirdre Cummings, Legislative Director of MASSPIRG. “Massachusetts’ spending website is one of the best in the country when it comes to making state spending transparent and accessible.”

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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Budget

Following the Money 2013

Every year, state governments spend tens of billions of dollars through contracts with private entities for goods and services, subsidies to encourage economic development, grants, and other forms of spending. Accountability and public scrutiny are necessary to ensure that state funds are well spent.

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News Release | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Budget, Tax

Getting our Money’s Worth?

As Massachusetts kicks off its months-long state budget deliberations, MASSPIRG Education Fund released a new study today that reviews a much-debated and costly category of state spending.

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Media Hit | Budget, Food, Tax

How taxpayer dollars become Twinkies

 

“Subsidies to large agribusiness are egregious enough on their own. The fact that the subsidies go to junk food adds insult to injury.”

 

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Budget, Food, Tax

Ag Subsidies Pay for 21 Twinkies per Taxpayer, But Only Half of an Apple Apiece

Federal subsidies for commodity crops are subsidizing junk food additives like high fructose corn syrup, enough to pay for 21 Twinkies per taxpayer every year, according to MASSPIRG’s new report, Apples to Twinkies 2012. “This is ridiculous,”  said MASSPIRG’s Legislative Director, Deirdre Cummings. “First, we are giving taxpayer subsidies to mature, profitable industries while struggling with how to reduce the nation’s record level of debt.  That is bad enough, but in addition, the billions of taxpayer supported subsides are then used to subside junk food—even as our childhood obesity rates are going through the roof. With the Farm Bill about to be reauthorized, it’s time to end this waste.”

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Budget, Tax

Recipients of Corporate Tax Breaks Revealed

MASSPIRG praised today’s release by the Department of Revenue detailed information about  who receives some $170 million in certain corporate tax breaks. 

“This is great news,” said Deirdre Cummings, Legislative Director for MASSPIRG, “any investment of public dollars in private enterprises must be held to the highest level of transparency and accountability. The legislature and the Administration should be commended for their leadership in making government spending more transparent and accountable.”

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Media Hit | Tax

Bay State lags in business subsidy successes

Watchdogs say the Bay State’s tax credit program lacks oversight. State subsidies have come under scrutiny in the wake of last year’s failure of Evergreen Solar. Rhode Island taxpayers are on the hook for 38 Studios, which defaulted on a $1.125 million loan payment earlier this month after the firm was lured away from Massachusetts last year by $75 million in loans. Deirdre Cummings of MassPIRG said Massachusetts doesn’t consistently track whether subsidized companies create jobs they promised to when they received multimillion-dollar tax credits. “These are taxpayer dollars. We have to be able to show it was a worthwhile investment, and there is absolutely no way to know,” she said.

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Massachusetts Stimulus Website

hree watchdog groups released their findings about the strengths and weaknesses of the state’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act website – www.Ma.gov/recovery .

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Report | Division of Health Care Finance and Policy (DHCFP) | Budget, Health Care, Higher Ed

Student Health Program Baseline Report

The Student Health Program Baseline Report is the first comprehensive report on the Student Health Program (SHP). The report  aims to provide an overview of the Program's enrollment and financial performance at Massachusetts colleges and universities, as well as serve as a baseline for SHP comparisons in the future improving transparency within the SHP marketplace.

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Report | McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies | Budget, Financial Reform, Tax

Report of the Quasi-Public Authority Compensation Review Commission

New report calls for improved transparency in Quasi-Public Authorities

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Report | MASSPIRG | Budget, Financial Reform, Tax

Tax Shell Game

Many of the largest corporations in our country hide profits made in the United States in offshore shell companies and sham headquarters in order to avoid paying billions in federal taxes.

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Failing the Bailout

Following the collapse of major financial institutions Congress enacted a sweeping $700 billion taxpayer-financed bailout of the financial sector.

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