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

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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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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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 | Budget, Tax

Effort to Close Tax Breaks for Big Oil Fails in US Senate

U.S. Senate votes down S.B. 940 known as the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act on May 17, 2011.

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Budget, Tax

House Approves Tax Subsidy Transparency and Accountability Reform

In the first day of the FY2012 state budget debate, the House adopted reforms to improve the transparency and accountability of tax subsidies.

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Budget, Tax

Off-Shore Tax Havens Cost MA Taxpayers $608 a Year

Major corporations avoid a total of as much as $100 billion a year in federal taxes by “off-shoring” their US profits. Massachusetts taxpayers are left footing the bill.

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News Release | MASSPIRG

Boston -- Massachusetts 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 MASSPIRG Education Fund 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.

Report | MASSPIRG

Boston -- Massachusetts 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 MASSPIRG Education Fund 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.

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 State House legislative committee held a public hearing today on a new bill that could help the state recoup $699 million dollars even without further reforms from Congress. The bill, HB 3787, 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.

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. 

Budget

Following the Money 2019

Our 10th report on government spending transparency rates all 50 states on the degree to which they make information about corporate tax breaks and other subsidies available online.

 

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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