Transparency and effective use of economic development incentives are major topics in several 2014 governors races.

South Carolina

“Opponents question Haley on state-backed incentive packages”

As November’s election approaches, Haley’s opponents hope to turn what is viewed as the governor’s greatest asset – her efforts to improve the economy and lure manufacturing jobs – into a weakness. They cite, in part, state-backed incentives and an aggressive public relation’s campaign they say has prized job announcements over results.

The Commerce Department does not regularly track how many jobs its deals create, only what is promised. A review by The State newspaper of job announcements in 2011 and 2012 found that just over half of those jobs had actually been created so far.

Democrat Vincent Sheheen and independent [Tom] Ervin, both running against Haley, say that they are not opposed to giving incentives to companies that want to create jobs in South Carolina. But both said they want more transparency, including the progress of deals that received state-backed incentive money.

Source: The Post and Courier

Connecticut

United Technologies looms large in governor’s race

Tax credits worth hundreds of millions of dollars for Connecticut’s largest private employer have emerged as a flashpoint in the governor’s race, with Republican Tom Foley decrying the aid as corporate welfare and Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy saying it’s crucial to keep United Technologies Corp. from leaving the state.

Legislation signed this year by Malloy allows the aerospace giant to use accumulated tax credits for the millions it’s spending to upgrade and improve manufacturing and research operations. . . . Foley, a Greenwich businessman, argues that the conglomerate, which posted revenue of $62.63 billion last year, is hardly in need of public assistance. He said he would prefer to focus instead on job creation incentives for small businesses.

Malloy has pointed to incentive programs for major Connecticut employers as a key success of his first term. His “First Five” program intended to consolidate tax credits to draw the first five businesses that invest $25 million in Connecticut and create 200 jobs over five years.

Foley said he supports tax incentives for small businesses. In addition, he would order state development agencies to focus on supporting seven industries such as highly engineered manufacturing and health care, but his plan does not outline specifically what his administration would do to help boost job growth.

Source: The Boston Globe

Texas

Debate in Texas Governor’s Race Turns Heated Over Incentive Fund

Wendy Davis and Greg Abbott — both vying to become governor of Texas — sparred Tuesday in their second and final televised debate over the state’s mismanagement of an economic-incentive fund that has put Mr. Abbott on the defensive and given Ms. Davis new momentum.

Ms. Davis, a Democrat and a state senator, accused Mr. Abbott, a Republican and the Texas attorney general, of concealing the lax oversight of the fund to help contributors to his campaign. Mr. Abbott responded by accusing Ms. Davis of profiting from a company that received money from the fund when she served on the Fort Worth City Council.

On Thursday, a state auditor’s report found that an economic development fund, which was promoted by Gov. Rick Perry and awarded taxpayer money to businesses and universities to spur job creation, had given more than $200 million to recipients without requiring them to apply formally or to create a set number of jobs. The program, which is known as the Texas Enterprise Fund and administered by Mr. Perry’s office, awarded $222 million to 11 projects that did not submit applications and did not make specific promises to create jobs.

Source: New York Times

Florida

Floridians say job creation their no 1 issue in governors race

For Floridians whose political priority is jobs and the economy — 30 percent of them, a new University of South Florida survey says — knowing the record and the vision of the two candidates may help decide which one can create more and better employment opportunities for the next four years.

Scott, for example, was able to persuade Hertz, the second-largest U.S. rental car company, to move its corporate headquarters from Park Ridge, New Jersey, to Estero in Lee County, bringing about 700 jobs. . . . It’s a tactic Scott plays well, as when he sent letters last year to business leaders in other states — all of which had Democratic governors — and asked them to relocate to the Sunshine State. “Book a trip to Florida soon, and we hope you make it a ‘one way’ trip because we have the perfect climate for your business,” Scott’s letters said.

In an interview last week with the editorial board of The Tampa Tribune, Crist said “we can do a lot better.” Later, he rolled out his Fair Shot Florida plan to create jobs by investing in small businesses, which includes reopening the state Office of Small Business Advocacy, encouraging solar and renewable energy companies and creating a “competitive grant fund” for budding entrepreneurs. Instead of poaching businesses and their jobs from elsewhere, Crist said he wants to nurture homegrown employment opportunities.

Source: TCPalm

Massachusetts

Governor candidates differ on support of state’s life sciences initiative

One of the clear differences between the two leading candidates for governor who took questions today at a biotech-focused forum in Cambridge was their support for the 10-year, $1 billion Life Sciences Initiative founded by Gov. Deval Patrick in 2007.

The Democratic candidate, Attorney General Martha Coakley, came out as an enthusiastic supporter of the program several times. Meanwhile, opponent Charlie Baker, a Republican, did not say he was against the program, but showed what might be described as much less enthusiastic support for it.

Charlie Baker: “I think a lot of the work the (Life Sciences Initiative) has done has been quite effective, and I visited a variety of places around the commonwealth. . . . I think the state, again, can play a role as a partner on this, but I think the lead ought to be driven by the private investors and the product developers and the people who really understand, sort of, what the opportunity here looks like.”

Martha Coakley: “This has been a great economic driver, and we need to continue it. I think other things grow from it, obviously, as we’ve seen around the innovation districts in Cambridge and in Boston. … I have talked to mayors around the state. And what they’ve told me they need is a good, consolidated, collaborative plan to increase the growth in every part of our sector.”

Source: Boston Business Journal

Georgia

Grab bag of economic incentives” vs. “Going after taxpayer pocketbooks

Democrat Jason Carter unleashed a new line of attack against Republican Gov. Nathan Deal after the release of a federal report showing that only Mississippi has a worse unemployment rate than Georgia. . . . Carter, for his part, said he would support incentives and tax breaks for companies moving to Georgia or expanding operations here, but that he would spurn what he called Deal’s “grab bag” philosophy for those perks. He also pledged to ensure more incentives for smaller businesses, though he offered no specifics on how he would do that.

Meanwhile, “Nathan Deal claims Jason Carter is going after taxpayer ‘pocketbooks’ and Deal pushed back against Carter’s “grab bag” argument by citing a soon-to-be expanded program that grants free tech school tuition to students in high-needs programs. It’s widely expected that the expansion would include students in film programs, though Deal wouldn’t confirm.

“What is that? Is that a grab bag? No.” he said of the program. “It’s a realistic approach to job creation. If there are jobs available in your state and  you don’t have people qualified, it’s the government’s role to make sure they are qualified and that they’re trained. And it’s a pattern that’s worked and will continue to work.” He added: “We have put some great programs in place and I want to be there to see that they’re put in place as they’re intended to be.”

 Source: ajc.com – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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