Connecticut earns a “B” for transparency in government spending, according to an annual report card grading the 50 states in online access to data on where taxpayer dollars are spent.
The grade comes from the 5th annual “Following The Money” report by the ConnPIRG Education Fund. The report grades states from “A” to “F” based on the content and accessibility of each their transparency websites.
Connecticut’s “B” represents a step up from last year’s report card where the group gave the state a “C+.” However, the state website was outpaced by more comprehensive sites from states like Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Oregon, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
The report calls Connecticut an “advancing state” and cites two recent executive orders by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy designed to improve access to information on economic subsidies handed out to businesses and establishing an “open data portal.” But it also said information on business tax credits are not as transparent as similar programs in other states.
In a statement, ConnPIRG Director Abe Scarr said there has been a trend throughout the country to give taxpayers easier access to data on how their money is spent so that they can hold elected officials subsidy recipients accountable.
“Connecticut has taken some positive steps this year to keep up with the rising transparency standards, and we hope Connecticut takes further steps to become a national leader,” he said.
State Comptroller Kevin Lembo has pushed for legislation requiring the state to post more information on corporate subsidies on it’s websites. Although the lawmakers did not pass the proposal, Malloy essentially implemented it with an executive order establishing a searchable database of the state’s economic assistance programs.
In a press release, Lembo said the state’s improved grade recognized the recently enacted changes, but reflected a need for more progress on transparency with regard to state economic development spending.
“There is never a finish line for open government — only a perpetual work in progress — so I look forward to continuing the discussion and working on new ways to expand public access to important government financial information and data,” he said.