Saturday, February 03, 2007

Daniels Wants $12 Million Slush Fund For Business Handouts

While the state still struggles to figure out a day to fund full-day kindergarten and other more pressing needs, Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) is asking the legislature to create a $12 million slush fund which will allow he and his economic development team to sweeten the pot even more when negotiating taxpayer handouts to businesses. The Star's J.K. Wall reports:

He and the Indiana Economic Development Corp. want at least $12 million over two years for a "deal-closing" fund that would allow them to hand out cash as they try to lure fast-growing companies to the state.

But flexibility, while prized by the private sector, often is at odds with oversight prized by the public sector.

"There's a lot of potential for abuse. A lot of them do seem like slush funds," said Philip Mattera, research director at Good Jobs First, a Washington policy group that often has criticized government incentives for corporations.

Debate over such a fund in Indiana is likely to kick off next week as a Senate committee takes up Senate Bill 536, which would create the High-Growth Business Incentive Grant and Loan Program.

The notion that Indiana isn't doing enough in this area is a complete absurdity. Plenty of recent deals have been made with businesses that involved mass infusions of public subsidies where essentially Indiana outbid competing states to lure prospective new businesses. Legislators need to understand that Gov. Daniels, while he was a former executive at Eli Lilly, has no real business experience. At Lilly, he was essentially a highly-paid, top level lobbyist who used his political ties to win favorable governmental action for the pharmaceutical industry. The economic development team he now has on board without Mickey Mauer's presence is also devoid of any real business experience. They're just like kids in a candy store who don't know when to stop.


Anonymous said...

You know where the money will be going? Most of Daniels' economic development team consists of former Ice Miller attorneys. Want to bet whose clients will get the extra dole?

Anonymous said...

In and of itself, I don't have a problem with incentives, provided they're properly balanced, and, ultimately, disclosed.

It doesn't seem, though, like cities and the state work very well together on these things.

It's a giant competiton, and if a Democratic mayor wants to do something, a Republican governor doesn't want to give the mayor advantage, and vice-versa...

Maybe a permanent, 4 or 6-member bipartisan board, which would survive political terms, could oversee these efforts.

Otherwise, the latest new jobs or plant closings become fodder for next year's campaign commercials. Each side distorts the numbers, and away we go.