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Politics & Government

Michigan gets a “B+” for government spending transparency

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Alan Cleaver
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Flickr

A new report from the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan gives the state a “B+” when it comes to keeping citizens informed of government spending habits.

The study said Michigan is doing especially well when it comes to making that information available online.

Phineas Baxandall is PIRGIM’s senior policy analyst. He said when a government makes spending information accessible, citizens pay attention.

“[Citizens] ask questions about how this money is spent,” Baxandall said. “Then that spending can improve and better reflect the values people want to see.”

The report categorized Michigan as an “advancing” state, meaning the state has shown slight improvement in the past year.

To continue improving, the report said Michigan needs to make its spending information available for bulk download. That way, citizens, journalists and others can easily crunch and analyze the numbers.

Baxandall said prioritizing transparency can help governments save money. He said officials think twice about spending when they know the information is going to end up online.

“Someone who might be thinking about staying at Disney World when they’re going to some conference may decide to stay at the cheaper Days Inn, for instance,” he said.

Several states received an “A” grade for transparency efforts, including Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Alaska, California and Idaho each received failing marks.