by Locker Room contributor
Watching the NC Incentves Game has always been a bit like a street hustler perform the Three-card Monte. Done well, the game is always exciting and seems so simple to figure out, but the sucker always gets taken and the con man (short for “confidence”) walks away with the money.
In NC, the sheer number of incentive programs boggles the mind, dozens of ways to give away your money have been set up and even more at the local level exist. But one of the most powerful has been exposed for what it is. A bunch of folks, meeting in secret, giving away money, none of whom are elected.
Raleigh ? A committee of just five people oversees one of the state’s most lucrative incentives programs, deciding which companies will receive government aid to open business or expand in North Carolina. The public knows little about the state Economic Investment Committee, because members often meet in secret. Since 2004, companies, including Turbomeca, Google and Network Appliance, have made decisions to expand in North Carolina based on the committee’s promises of more than $200 million.
There should be outrage, but one has to wonder if the citizens really care. Here’s an example of a bad process:
The Economic Investment Committee’s secret meeting six months later resulted in the officials agreeing to offer the business, Turbomeca Manufacturing, $2.5 million to help lure 180 jobs to Union County, located near Charlotte. The public didn’t know state leaders were even talking to Turbomeca. Taxpayers found out a week after the closed meeting when the committee held a public session to officially award the deal.
While elected leaders are increasing spending by almost 10% annually since 2003 it’s no wonder companies are trying to get money back. Leaders should aspire to treat all of us fairly instead of having their cronies picking winners and losers behind closed doors handing out our money.