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More IEDC oversight is needed
Saturday, December 29, 2012 4:00 AM
Contrasting views exist on whether the Indiana Economic Development Corporation should let the public know how many jobs it actually creates.
As of now, the IEDC, a quasi-state agency, does not go public with that information. That irks State Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel.
And, rightfully so.
Simply put, Delph believes Indiana taxpayers have a right to know how many jobs they are paying for. Delph is taking that conviction seriously and has filed legislation that would prevent the IEDC from staying mum about the number of jobs actually created through tax incentives that are offered to various companies.
It's an issue of encouraging government transparency, which is always a value embraced by the populace.
Delph said he believes the public is being intentionally misled.
An Indianapolis television station recently reported as many as 40 percent of the more than 100,000 jobs promoted by Gov. Mitch Daniels and agency officials from 2005 to 2010 never materialized. But the IEDC won't disclose which companies have not met their job commitments. The IEDC says companies receive tax incentives only after they prove they've achieved their job projections.
Regardless of when the companies receive those incentives, it's unacceptable for the status of such ventures to be shrouded in secrecy.
The IEDC makes its own arguments for not making the information readily available. The WTHR website quotes Daniel Hasler, IEDC chief operating officer, as saying the numbers of jobs created represent "performance information for companies" and that releasing the data can affect their stock price. The IDEC believes releasing more detailed information about companies will force businesses to create jobs elsewhere.
Delph doesn't buy that way of thinking. He says he doesn't believe for a minute that "transparency is somehow hostile to economic development." In fact, he thinks transparency will help economic development by giving the IEDC increased credibility.
Democrats have offered measures similar to Delph's in past sessions, but the bills went nowhere.
The proposal is an important one. And legislators would be promoting government accountability if they approach the debate with a consensus that Delph is championing the proper message. Taxpayers indeed have a right to know how their tax dollars are spent and that any entity benefiting from those expenditures holds up its end of the deal.
- The Bedford Times-Mail
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