After being swept into statehouses in the red wave of 2010, Republican Govs. Scott Walker, John Kasich and Terry Branstad each presided over the replacement of a state agency responsible for economic development with a less public, more private alternative. Arizona’s Jan Brewer did the same in 2010 after replacing Janet Napolitano, who’d been tapped for Obama’s Cabinet.
Walker’s Wisconsin, Kasich’s Ohio, Branstad’s Iowa and Brewer’s Arizona were only the latest to institute a “public-private partnership” approach to development: States including Indiana, Florida, Rhode Island, Michigan and Texas had done the same years earlier.
Now North Carolina’s Pat McCrory, who entered the governor’s mansion in January, aims to do the same. A new report from a progressive group warns that means good news for the wealthy and politically connected, but bad news for just about everyone else.
“Privatization augurs against transparency …” Good Jobs First executive director Greg LeRoy told Salon. LeRoy is a co-author of the new report “Creating Scandals Instead of Jobs: The Failures of Privatized State Economic Development,” which his group released Wednesday afternoon.
Based on recent years’ scandals and controversies in several states, the authors conclude that “the privatization of economic development agency functions is an inherently corrupting action that states should avoid or repeal.” They argue the record shows that “privatization was not a panacea,” but instead fostered misuse of taxes; excessive bonuses; questionable subsidies; conflicts of interest; specious impact claims; and “resistance to accountability.” Goods Jobs First funders include unions and foundations.
A spokesperson for Gov. Kasich emailed Salon a one-sentence take on the report: “We don’t pay much attention to politically motivated opponents whose mission is to combat job creation.”
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