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Malloy Administration Executive Orders are a “strong start” on Connecticut Transparency, though More Work Remains
CONTACT: Evan Preston, ConnPIRG Education Fund State Director Cell: 217-370-1390 Email: evan@ConnPIRG Education Fund.org
Malloy Administration Executive Orders are a “strong start” on Connecticut Transparency,
though More Work Remains
A new report released today by ConnPIRG Education Fund examined the content and implementation of two executive orders issued by Governor Malloy intended to increase government transparency. In “Revealing Tax Subsidies and CT Open Data” ConnPIRG Education Fund finds that the state has provided much more information than was available just a year ago although there remains more work to be done to provide taxpayers with crucial information on some tax subsidy programs.
“Increased disclosure about economic development tax credits and the information found on Connecticut Open Data provides more transparency than ever before to Connecticut taxpayers,” said Evan Preston, ConnPIRG Education Fund State Director. “However, there is still more to be done so that the public can see the return on their investment through a particular tax subsidy.”
“Revealing Tax Subsidies and CT Open Data” explains the substance of two executive orders signed by Governor Malloy last winter, both of which were designed to increase budget transparency. In Executive Order 38, Governor Malloy required that the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) make information about Economic Development loans, grants, and tax credits available online through a searchable format. Now Connecticut taxpayers can better see some of the uses of public money through several tax credit as well as business assistance loan programs by reviewing the conditions of the programs such as job creation, job retention or community investment and comparing those conditions to the performance of particular companies. In Executive Order 39, Governor Malloy called for the creation of an open data portal, what is now data.ct.gov, where the public can access a wealth of real time data sets from government agencies. This new data portal was established with the presumption that data will be publicly accessible unless there is good reason it should not be.
The Director of Connecticut Voices for Children’s Fiscal Policy Center, Wade Gibson, said of the report: "Greater transparency in how we allocate scarce public dollars is essential. It ensures both that the state gets maximum 'bang for its buck' and that the public can trust how its dollars are spent."
ConnPIRG Education Fund’s analysis also looks at how far the state has gone toward implementing the Governor’s orders. While most of the actions ordered by the executive orders have been completed on or ahead of schedule, the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) posted the triennial analysis of tax credits at the end of September, which was required to be posted by March 31. ConnPIRG Education Fund found many of the programs administered by the DECD to have fairly well updated information about the actual results of companies receiving public dollars or tax credits. For example, Connecticut Open Data, the web portal created after the executive orders, provides information on over $700 million in tax subsidy programs ranging back to 2011.
However, there is still a lack of basic information on several tax subsidy programs, particularly economic development tax credits administered by the Department of Revenue Services (DRS). Currently, only aggregate information from DRS is available, making it impossible to evaluate the performance of individual recipients of tax credits.
“To allow the public to evaluate the use of their tax dollars, we must make transparent which companies are receiving tax subsidies, what the terms of those subsidies are and whether or not those terms are met,” said Preston. “This year Connecticut took a significant step forward by giving taxpayers more information and now the state can move further to give the public the full picture on tax subsidies.”
Amongst the seven recommendations the ConnPIRG Education Fund makes, the leading recommendation is for a strengthening of standards for results promised to taxpayers in exchange for the grant of particular tax subsidies, ensuring that taxpayers receive a return on their investment. The group is also calling for the publication of the names and contact information of the executive agency officers in charge of implementing greater transparency.
To read the full report go to:
Connecticut’s transparency website can be found at: https://data.ct.gov/
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