Thursday, Sep 26, 2013
Arkansas Improves Financial Transparency Rankings in National Surveys
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LITTLE ROCK - In national surveys of financial transparency, Arkansas state government has improved its rankings dramatically in the past year in national rankings of government financial transparency.
All the reports cite the same reason - passage of Act 303 of 2011, also known as the Financial Transparency Act. By approving the act, the legislature created a free web site on which state government spending is more easily examined. It lists expenditures of all state government agencies and divisions, as well as salaries of state agency personnel. It lists vendors who do business with the state and the value of contracts they have with state agencies.
The web site has a separate page listing the bonded indebtedness of state government entities, and a separate page listing state funding to cities and counties.
Another informative page on the web site outlines revenues, by type and by source and by which agency receives it. That page shows web browsers how much the state brings in from general taxes, such as the sales tax and the income tax, as well as how much is generated by "special revenue" taxes levied on specific items like mixed drinks, cigarettes and motor fuels.
It is updated constantly, so that the financial information is pertinent. The web site is at Transparency.Arkansas.gov
Setting up the web site improved Arkansas' grades greatly in national rankings of state financial transparency. A good example is the rankings by the United States Public Interest Research Group, which in 2012 gave Arkansas an F for its financial transparency, but in 2013 it gave Arkansas a B. The web site went online on July 1 of 2012.
In addition to the budget information available on the site there are valuable links to other government web sites, which you can access by clicking on the "Additional Info" box.
There are links to the web pages where you can see campaign finance reports by candidates for public office.
Also, there are links to pages listing the registered lobbyists who work in Arkansas. Another link will take you to the page of the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee, which publishes regular audits and special investigations. A link takes you to the Department of Finance and Administration page with an inventory of the state's fleet of motor vehicles. It requires some "drilling down" on the web page, but you can open a spread sheet listing each vehicle, the agency that owns it and its license plate number.
The Game and Fish Commission has set a 60-day season for waterfowl. Here are the dates for duck season: November 23-December 1; December 5- 23 ; December 26 - January 26. The youth hunt will be February 1 and 2.
Last year Arkansas had the highest harvest of Mallards in the country, with 529,500 mallards harvested. It is routine for Arkansas to lead the nation in Mallards harvested. In California, the state with the second highest number of Mallards harvested, the total was less than half the number harvested in Arkansas.
About 225,000 Gadwall were harvested in Arkansas, followed by 214,000 Green Winged Teal and 130,000 Shovelers.
The number of Wood Ducks harvested in Arkansas dropped from 91,000 to 62,000. That still put us ahead of Alabama, which also has good habitat for Wood Duck and where 52,000 were harvested last year.