by Julie Tisdale
City & County Policy Analyst
I just read a quote from Roy Cooper at the 2017 Economic Forecast Forum, hosted by the N.C. Chamber of Commerce and the N.C. Bankers Association yesterday in Durham.
I promise you that as governor of this state, I will be an aggressive recruiter of good-paying jobs, because what I want for our people is for them to be healthy, better educated and I want to put more money into the pockets of everyday working people so that they can have the opportunity to live a more abundant and purposeful life.
Cooper isn’t a new face in North Carolina politics. He may be new to the governor’s mansion, but we saw plenty of him as Attorney General. It’s not difficult to make educated guesses about the approach he’ll take to the economy, because he has a record. That said, I’m reserving judgment, letting his actions and words as governor speak for themselves.
And this statement concerns me.
Of course, we all want people to have the opportunity to live more abundant, purposeful lives. And we all think that being healthy and better educated, with good-paying jobs and more money in our pockets helps.
But I want to know what he means when he says he “will be an aggressive recruiter” of those jobs. Does he mean he’ll reduce regulations and tax burdens so that North Carolina becomes a more attractive place for companies to do business? Does he mean that he wants to improve the overall business environment for all businesses by getting the government out of the way so that business can do what they do well, including employing North Carolinians?
Or does he mean he’ll continue the incentives policies of his predecessor, cherry-picking particular companies and industries, and directing taxpayers’ money to them in the form of corporate incentive payments and tax breaks? I suspect he means the latter. I hope I’m wrong.
The Locke Foundation has written over and over about the problems with this sort of incentive policy. Whether it’s film, manufacturing, or any other crony capitalism. I hope that Governor Cooper will heed our warnings.