Republican Governors, Disappointing Us One After Another
So, my dear righty friends, does this give off a whiff of crony capitalism?
Members of an Iowa board charged with doling out millions to lure business to the state often work for companies that benefit from the incentive programs they oversee, an Iowa Watchdog review shows.
Additionally, Iowa Economic Development Authority board members donated thousands of dollars to political campaigns, including Gov. Terry Branstad, prior to their nominations to the board. The Republican governor led the charge to create the authority when he took office in 2011 and appointed its entire board, which has to gain final approval from a majority in the Iowa Senate.
The board selected dozens of companies in the past year to receive a combined $189 million in taxpayer money and tax breaks, with the goal of luring more business to Iowa and growing its economy. An Iowa Watchdog review of state campaign donor lists, legislation and records from the authority showed a majority of the money went to fund projects at existing businesses, rather than to land out-of-state or new companies.
“Whenever there is even an appearance of a conflict of interest we abstain,” said Theodore Crosbie, an authority board member and vice president of global plant breeding at Monsanto. “We take the subject seriously. All members have been diligent about this matter.”
But the review found potential conflicts of interest among board members. Specifically, it showed six companies – John Deere, Aviva USA, Monsanto, Cargill, Brownells Inc. and Interstate Companies – received at least $39.6 million in tax incentives and state grants and loans, despite leaders from the respective companies serving on the authority’s board. In exchange, the companies promised to create 983 jobs. State documents did not show a figure for the incentives received by Brownells.
Pretty dispiriting time to be a Republican. Here in Virginia, Bob McDonnell just agreed to a transportation bill that includes way too many different types of tax increases. I think some folks on the Right are understating the fact that the state genuinely needed a steady supply of revenue to pay for transportation projects and repair, but McDonnell began with a plan that would eliminate the gas tax and increase the sales tax. Now the sales tax goes up, the tax on gas is reduced and shifted to wholesale (easier to hide from consumers), AND the car tax goes up from 3 percent to 4.3 percent AND there’s a new 0.25 percent sales tax on homes in Northern Virginia AND there’s a new hotel tax. Did you guys forget anything? I mean, for a deal like that, we could have elected Democrats.
We’ve seen Kasich in Ohio and Scott in Florida punt on the Medicare expansion. And now this you-scratch-my-back, I’ll-scratch-yours mess in Iowa. I’m sure everyone involved in Iowa Economic Development Authority will insist the $189 million they’ve spent so far created jobs… but that’s not the point, as it’s hard to spend $189 million and not create any jobs. The point is that any business that has an employee on the Authority board has an enormous advantage in getting economic assistance from the state, an advantage that a small start-up is unlikely to have.