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

Media Hit | Budget, Tax

We Need A Win

By their very nature, anonymous shell corporations are a problem that remains under the radar. Anyone can easily set up an anonymous corporation, but Massachusetts, as well as Connecticut and Maine, are uniquely positioned to play a key role in shutting them down.

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Media Hit | Budget, Food, Tax

Farm Bill needs to Cut the Fat

Of the $277 billion spent on agricultural subsidies since 1995, 75 percent of the total went to just 3.8 percent of U.S. farmers, skewed towards the largest farms — not small family farms. Massachusetts consumers’ share of the cost for junk food subsidies is about $22.6 million each year on average, compared with just under $800,000 in subsidies for apples. That’s enough to buy 61 million Twinkies, but only 1.6 million apples.

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Media Hit | Budget, Tax

State's tax breaks must be subject to accountability, transparency

Massachusetts has more than doubled special targeted tax breaks to businesses since 1996, with costs to the state budget topping $770 million last year. It is troubling that many programs funded through business tax breaks lack clear goals, much less any way to measure progress toward those goals or ability to reclaim tax breaks that fail to deliver results.

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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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Media Hit | Budget, Tax

South Coast Today - Don't let the American taxpayer get fooled again

If a kid steals a cookie, does it make sense to give him another and then hope that he won't do it again? An army of corporate lobbyists on Capitol Hill is trying to convince Congress that after stashing nearly $1.4 trillion offshore to avoid paying the U.S. taxes they owe, they should get a massive tax discount for bringing the money back to America.

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Media Hit | Budget, Tax

Worcester Telegram & Gazette - A Trillion We Can Agree On

Although many politicians will continue to fight among themselves no matter the issue, there is actually a substantial consensus in the watchdog community about where to cut waste in the federal budget.

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News Release | Budget, Tax

New Report Shows Problems with Widely Used Local Economic Development Tool

Recommends Reforms for Tax-Increment Financing in Massachusetts

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Budget, Food, Tax

Ag Subsidies Pay for 19 Twinkies per Taxpayer, But Only a Quarter of an Apple Apiece

A new report highlights how federal subsidies for commodity crops are also subsidizing junk food additives like high fructose corn syrup.

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Budget, Tax

Unlikely Allies Uncover $1 Trillion in Savings for Super Committee

As the Congressional “Super Committee” begins its search for $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction, a new study released today by MASSPIRG’s national affiliate, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) and the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) provides the panel with more than $1 trillion of spending cuts with appeal from across the political spectrum.

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News Release | MASSPIRG

BOSTON -- Too many corporations dodge both state and federal taxes by shifting U.S. earnings to subsidiaries in offshore tax havens. However, a bill introduced on Beacon Hill could help the state recoup $699 million dollars even without further reforms from Congress. The bill, HD 1089, An Act relative to tax havens and complete reporting, filed by Representative Josh Cutler (Duxbury), would move the state to a “Complete Reporting” system, eliminating loopholes that allow companies to book profits made in the state offshore.

Report | MASSPIRG

Every year, corporations use complicated schemes to shift U.S. earnings to subsidiaries in offshore tax havens—countries with minimal or no taxes—in order to reduce their state and federal income tax liability by billions of dollars. This new report outline how states can prevent this practice. 

Blog Post

New story in the Boston Globe today found at least 19 "quasi-public" agencies in Massachusetts failed to publish millions of dollars in payroll and spending data on the state's transparency website as required by a MASSPIRG backed 2010 law that mandated the public disclosures. 

Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund

Massachusetts 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.

News Release | US PIRG

Below is a statement from U.S. PIRG Program Advocate Michelle Surka on the proposed House tax bill's impacts on our debt:

“The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, introduced this morning in the House, is an exercise in fiscal recklessness, exploding the budget deficit while failing to close the biggest tax loopholes and relying on gimmicks to obscure the impact on the national debt. Rather than make prudent trade-offs to achieve the President's promised tax cuts, this bill twists itself into knots attempting to distract from the bottom line: it will add trillions to our deficit."

Budget | U.S. PIRG

Blueprint for tomorrow

Our report highlights which investments will alleviate the most dire problems America faces as a result of crumbling or outdated infrastructure.

 
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