Arkansas Improves to C- Grade for Transparency of Government Spending

The state of Arkansas improved from F to a C- grade for its government spending transparency, according to an annual report released Tuesday by the United States Public Interest Research Group Education Fund of Boston.

"State governments across the country have become more transparent about where public money goes, providing citizens with the information they need to hold elected officials and businesses that receive public funds accountable," Phineas Baxandall, senior analyst for tax and budget policy with the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, said in a news release. "But Arkansas still has a long way to go."

Arkansas launched its transparency website in 2012, Transparency.Arkansas.gov. With the site, for the first time the state provided checkbook-level expenditure information online. Arkansas was one of the top 10 states most improved since last year, rising from an F in last year’s report to a C- in this year’s report, the news release said.

The report described Arkansas as an "emerging state," but still not a leader. The Arkansas website fails to include checkbook-level information on economic development tax credits and spending by off-budget agencies, as well as the projected and achieved benefits of economic development subsidies.

"The state of Arkansas should build upon this year’s progress and further improve the breadth and ease-of-access of online government spending information," Baxandall said. "Given the state’s difficult budget choices, Arkansas residents need to be able to follow the money."

To read the report, click here.