One debate, long ago, is enough

By: - July 16, 2008 1:14 pm

 Rep. Bill Owens is generally the leading spokesperson for the Department of Commerce in the House and has never met a business incentive (corporate welfare program) that he didn't like. But Owens outdid himself Tuesday afternoon pushing a bill to raise the cap on how much money the Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) can give to corporations.

An unlikely coalition of conservative Republicans and progressive Democrats oppose the legislation which has emerged as the General Assembly is winding down.  Rep. Paul Luebke pointed out that the latest annual report on JDIG from Commerce officials raises serious questions about its effectiveness.

Lawmakers received the required report Monday, more than two months late, leaving no time to discuss it or debate its implications before the session adjourns. That's an interesting coincidence and as Luebke said Tuesday, it doesn't inspire much confidence in an agency that handles hundreds of million of dollars in corporate giveaways that it can't file reports to the General Assembly on time.  The previous annual report was more than eight months late.

But no worries, says Owens, and surely no reason to stop and actually read the report before giving away millions more taxpayer dollars. Besides, as he told the House, lawmakers debated JDIG for 63 hours when it was created, which was in the 2002 session. 

Oh, now we get it. One debate, six years ago, is enough.

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Chris Fitzsimon

Chris Fitzsimon, Founder and Executive Director of N.C. Policy Watch, writes the Fitzsimon File, delivers a radio commentary broadcast on WRAL-FM and hosts "News and Views," a weekly radio news magazine that airs on multiple stations across North Carolina. [email protected] 919-861-2066