The Palmetto Insider

The blog of the South Carolina Policy Council

Report: South Carolina Far Behind Other States in Transparency Efforts

leave a comment »

South Carolina has been doling out incentives at a rapid rate – more than $1 billion over the past 10 years.

But what do we have to show for it? It’s hard to say, given the lack of transparency and accountability that overshadows such deals.

As indicated by a new SCPC report, Three Steps Toward Transparency, “Economic development legislation should be crafted in a deliberative manner subject to full public review and debate.”

Among the white paper’s recommendations is the creation of a unified economic development report, released annually by the Department of Revenue. The report would detail all state and local expenditures for economic development, including targeted tax credits; and list all uncollected state and local tax revenues resulting from any tax credit or exemption provided by state or local governments.

While transparency opponents are likely to balk at releasing such information, several states have already created economic incentives transparency websites. According to a report by the Washington, D.C.-based organization Good Jobs First, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Pennsylvania have the best disclosure websites.

As for South Carolina … we scored an “F.” When it comes to incentives transparency, the Palmetto State is the 4th worst state; only Alabama, West Virginia and Wyoming score worse than South Carolina.

Some of the Good Jobs First report’s findings and recommendations:

“Many of the states disclose only projected costs but not actual benefits. That is, they provide information about deals as they have been awarded, but they do not report outcomes of the deals over time (such as jobs actually created).

“In addition to moving toward full transparency about the subsidies awarded, states should do more to monitor the performance of subsidy recipients—the outcomes of the deals— and disclose those results to the public.

“Given how much easier it has become to post information on the Web, we also recommend that state disclosure data be updated quarterly, instead of annually.”

Many of those similar proposals are outlined in the Policy Council white paper. But they are ideas you won’t find in the massive economic development bill, H 4478.

The question, though, is why not? If state-driven economic development is such a good idea, then our political leaders should have no qualms showing the public just how well their money is being spent. Transparency is a win-win, Unless, of course, the powers that be already know that economic incentives are not working – except to benefit themselves and their friends.


Written by SC Policy Council

February 22, 2010 at 10:40 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: