Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Colorado gets only a 'D-plus' for disclosure of tax subsidies

Colorado grants tens of millions of dollars in tax subsidies annually but provides only minimal information to taxpayers about who receives the support.

That's among the findings of a report and online research tools issued today by Good Jobs First. Researchers gave Colorado a "D-plus" grade for the state's disclosure of tax subsidies, finding the vast majority of subsidies have no online disclosure of recipients.

Colorado's Enterprise Zone Program, for example, which designates areas where companies may qualify for up to nine different tax credits and other abatements/exemptions, cost state taxpayers $46.7 million in 2008, but it provided no disclosure of who received the subsidies. Other programs, such as the Job Creation Performance Incentive Fund, which cost $6.1 million in Fiscal Year 2009, had higher degrees of disclosure.

"We can do better. There are a number of solutions the state could pursue to move that grade to passing," said Kathy White, deputy director of the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute. "In fact, in times like this, when tough choices are being made by legislators and sacrifices made by families, we must ensure every dollar spent or cut is carefully considered. We can't do that without knowing where the dollars go and why."

The Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute, a watchdog for government accountability, reviewed data and helped provide information to Good Jobs First in advance of today's report. The Fiscal Policy Institute is a project of the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and advocacy organization seeking justice and economic security for all Coloradans.

The report issued today, called Show Us The Subsidies, includes looks at all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Colorado was one of seven states to receive a "D-plus" grade. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia currently have no disclosure at all and received "F" grades.

More analysis of government transparency and accountability is available on the Colorado Center on Law and Policy's website.

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