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

Closing the Billion Dollar Loophole

Massachusetts taxpayers could save $79 million from a simple reform to crack down on offshore tax dodging, according to a new report.

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Media Hit | Budget, Tax

JPMorgan should get no tax deduction in settlement deal

Taxpayers should not pay for corporate wrong doing.

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Blog Post | Budget, Tax

4 REASONS LAWMAKERS ARE SCRUTINIZING HOW COMPANIES TURN SETTLEMENTS FROM WRONGDOING INTO TAX WRITE OFFS | Deirdre Cummings

When a company must pay a penalty for wrongdoing, should the public also shoulder a hidden subsidy for the corporation? Four factors are bringing this issue to a head.

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Budget, Tax

Groups call for Transparency and Accountability of Corporate Tax Breaks

MASSPIRG calls on State House Committee to make corporate tax breaks more transparent and accountable.

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Budget, Tax

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

With Tax Day approaching, it’s a good time to be reminded of where our tax dollars are going. MASSPIRG  released a new study which revealed that the average Massachusetts  taxpayer in 2012 would have to shoulder an extra $1,542 in taxes to make up for the revenue lost due to the use of offshore tax havens by corporations and wealthy individuals.

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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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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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Following the Money

The ability to see how government uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy. Spending transparency checks corruption, bolsters public confidence in government, and promotes fiscal responsibility.

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Report | Good Jobs First | Budget, Financial Reform, Tax

Show Us the Stimulus (Again)

A report released today shows that many states are making dramatic improvements in websites designed to disseminate information about their share of the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), while others have failed to make vital information available.

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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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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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