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For help with a story, contact Charles Siler at (602) 633-8960, or csiler@goldwaterinstitute.org.

  • The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: A Review of Arizona’s Fiscal Transparency Efforts

    Posted on July 15, 2014 | Type: In the News | Author: Byron Schlomach

    Arizona government entered modern financial transparency in 2008 when the legislature approved the launch of the Arizona Open Books website. When the website came online in 2011, the state essentially opened its checkbook by posting individual transactions to the web. This report assesses the usefulness of Arizona’s Open Books website and reveals questionable financial transactions. The Arizona Open Books website proved useful in exposing some suspicious transactions, but transparency in Arizona still needs improvement. We were able to use the website to find wasteful spending on nearly $2.5 million worth of “Awards” and another $1 million on “Entertainment and Promotional” items in 2013. But the site did not provide sufficient detail to assess the legitimacy of suspicious transactions lumped into catch-all codes like “Other Professional Outside Services,” which totaled $289 million in 2013 alone. The bottom line is that while most of the state’s individual expenditures are posted for public scrutiny, it is still possible for waste, fraud, and abuse to hide in plain sight due to vague or cryptic descriptions of individual expenditures. Curious taxpayers are treated to accounting codes and code descriptions that often bear little resemblance to the purpose for which funds are expended. In addition, payroll abuses can be hidden because payroll is kept secret under current law even though public employee salaries are subject to open records. If Arizona’s state government is to be truly transparent, each transaction posted on Arizona Open Books needs an accompanying memo line to give citizens accurate descriptions of the specific purpose of each transaction. Sourcing of expenditures should be provided as well. Finally, specific details about the public payroll should be a centerpiece of Arizona Open Books.

  • MEDIA ADVISORY: HOBBY LOBBY DECISION IS A SMALL VICTORY, BUT IT DOESN’T STRIKE THE HEART OF OBAMACARE

    Posted on June 30, 2014 | Type: In the News

    Christina Sandefur, Goldwater Institute Senior Attorney, praised the high court's decision in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Monday, but warned that the decision does not get at the heart of defeating Obamacare. The Goldwater Institute's own legal challenge against the federal health care law, Coons v. Lew, could eviscerate the Obamacare law completely by invalidating the Independent Payment Advisory Board, the cost-rationing board that is the lynchpin of the federal law. That case is currently pending before the Ninth Circuit but is expected to be taken up by the Supreme Court in coming months. Sandefur stated:

  • FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: AMIDST PRESSURE OF LAWSUIT, CITY ENDS GROSS 'PENSION-SPIKING' ABUSES

    Posted on June 27, 2014 | Type: In the News

    More than a quarter century of an abusive union practice known as "pension spiking" has ended, thanks to the resolution of a Phoenix lawsuit Friday. Officials for the City of Phoenix agreed to cease the practice in new contracts imposed on public safety unions as the result of a lawsuit filed by the Goldwater Institute last year.

  • FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: SCOTUS decision in NLRB v CANNING only first step to curb executive overreach

    Posted on June 26, 2014 | Type: In the News

    Today’s unanimous decision by the nine justices is an important first step in curbing abuses by the country’s executive now and in the future, whether Republicans or Democrats are in power. The NLRB appointments at issue in this case were made by the President during congressional recesses to deliberately avoid the vetting process for political appointees that is central for our nation’s checks and balances to succeed. Fortunately, thanks to this decision, we can rein in that abusive process. But we must be steadfast in our fight against practices of this kind, and today’s victory is only one piece in the solution to curbing federal overreach. The NLRB, in particular, led by unvetted political appointees, has shown itself as an agency willing to make an end-run around the legislative process to seek major changes to the American landscape, most notably through efforts to implement card check nationwide through obscure agency rulemaking without the attention of the American public. That’s why we must continue to counterbalance federal overreach through reforms like Save Our Secret Ballot to protect American workers and the American economy no matter who is holding these agency seats and no matter how they come to hold office.”

  • The Right To Try

    Posted on May 18, 2014 | Type: In the News

    States should enact “Right to Try” measures to protect the fundamental right of people to try to save their own lives. Designed by the Goldwater Institute, this initiative would allow terminal patients access to investigational drugs that have completed basic safety testing, thereby dramatically reducing paperwork, wait times and bureaucracy, and, most importantly, potentially saving lives.

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