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Idaho’s Among The Worst States When It Comes To Government Transparency

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The State Integrity Investigation gives Idaho a D-.

The latest government transparency report gives Idaho a near failing grade, ranking the Gem State among the ten worst states for transparency in the country.

The State Integrity Investigation gives Idaho an overall grade of D-.  The report looks at 14 categories, six of which the state failed.  The worst grades went to categories like legislative accountability, executive accountability and ethics enforcement.

You can click through the different categories to get more information on the methodology used for grading.

Longtime Capitol reporter Betsy Russell from The Spokesman Review wrote the narrative behind Idaho’s government transparency report card.  She says while there is no history here of corruption or smoke-filled hearing rooms, Idaho does have a way to go when it comes to financial disclosure and ethics enforcement.

“Idaho’s lack of financial disclosure and “revolving-door” laws leaves its state government vulnerable. Even though most public officials here may be honest, hard-working and dedicated to doing the right thing, without disclosure requirements, there’s no way to know for sure.” – Betsy Russell

Here’s the interesting thing. Not a single state received an A, just five states got a B.

  • 19 states received a C
  • 18 got D’s
  • Eight states failed, getting 59 percent or below

The State Integrity Investigation was a months-long probe conducted by the Center For Public Integrity, Public Radio International and Global Integrity.

In a separate government transparency study released last week, Idaho officially slipped into the failing category, ranking last among states.  The U.S. Public Interest Research Group’s report card focused on government spending.

“The main thing is that Idaho is one of the four states that does not have checkbook-level expenditure information,” Tax and Budget Associate Ryan Pierannunzi explained.  “We consider that the very basic thing that all states should have.”

The state controller’s office told StateImpact Idaho it’s been trying to get funding for the kind of transparency website the U.S. Public Interest Research Group thinks all states should have.

“The governor put it into our budget this year, but it was pulled,” says Brandon Woolf, Chief of Staff at the State Controllers Office.  “It’s trying to get blood out of a turnip.  We realized there was no money over these recent years.  We’ve shared that this is a request we’re going to keep bringing up, each of these years we’ve gone before JFAC.”

Last week was Sunshine Week, an effort to highlight the importance of government transparency and public information.


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