Ain't No Sunshine on State Spending: Florida Gets a D For Transparency

While Florida's Senate Majority Leader makes misleading statements about a government spending measure currently moving through the legislature, the entire state government received a D grade for disclosure of how it spends taxpayer money, according to a recent report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

If it was a high school exam, however, Florida would've gotten an F. The state received a score of 59 out of 100 for websites that identify recipients and use of state funds, the South Florida Business Journal reports. Only 15 states scored lower according to U.S. PIRG's report, "Following the Money 2011: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data."

Florida's score for its transparency website actually dropped from a C worthy 66 in the group's 2010 report, to its dismal D this year. Last year, Florida trailed 21 states. Now, it's eating the dust of 35 states. A spokeswoman for Florida's Chef Financial Officer, Jeff Atwater, attributed the lower score to new standards.

"The grading scale changed from last year to this year, which did account for the drop," Alexis Lambert, the CFO spokeswoman said.

But Jeff Musto, one of the authors of the report said that they raised their standards because transparency practices are improving throughout the country.

"I think it's perfectly reasonable to attribute the drop to the fact that our standards have changed in terms of how we grade these websites," Musto said. "It just shows that Florida is not keeping up with other states, in terms of practices for providing their citizens with government spending information online."

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