Transparency Shortcomings of Arizona Commerce Authority Cited in New Report

Media Contacts
Jason Donofrio

Arizona PIRG Education Fund

A new report, Shining a Light on the Arizona Commerce Authority, examines how transparent the Arizona Commerce Authority has been with the grant and tax credit programs it oversees. The report, released today by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, discovered that while the Arizona Commerce Authority provides checkbook-level detail for some of the programs it administers, it fails to disclose the recipients and amounts of taxpayer-funded subsidies for 9 of 13 grant and tax credit programs.

“While the Arizona Commerce Authority has taken some positive first steps for a handful of the subsidy programs it controls, it needs to extend complete transparency to all grant and tax credit programs,” said Serena Unrein, Public Interest Advocate for the Arizona PIRG Education Fund. “If the Arizona Commerce Authority is sincere in its expressed intention to be transparent, it should disclose the recipients and amounts of public subsidies with checkbook-level detail.”

“The Arizona Commerce Authority controls a significant amount of taxpayer money, as it can award up to $150 million in tax credits and grants every year,” said Tom Jenney, Arizona director of Americans for Prosperity. “It’s critical that taxpayers be able to easily follow how the Arizona Commerce Authority is using their money.”

The report noted that for 14 of its 15 subsidy programs, the Arizona Commerce Authority does not disclose what the state expects subsidy recipients to deliver in return for receiving subsidies.

“Taxpayers deserve full confidence that the Arizona Commerce Authority is being a good steward of public money,” said Unrein. “If the Arizona Commerce Authority wants to ensure that tax dollars are being used responsibly, they should disclose expected results and conduct after-the-fact assessments for all of their subsidy programs.”

In addition, the Arizona Commerce Authority tracks what is delivered for only two of the 15 subsidy programs. The Commerce Authority conducts after-the-fact assessments on whether companies actually do deliver promised benefits for two programs – the Arizona Competes Fund and the Rural Economic Development Grant.

“As the Arizona Commerce Authority goes into its second year, it should take additional steps toward greater transparency and accountability and ensure that all taxpayer dollars are spent wisely,” concluded Unrein.

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