Thursday, May 11, 2017

Georgia governor signs rural jobs law; similar laws fail to see promised revenue

Georgia Republican Gov. Nathan Deal on Tuesday signed a tax credit law that supporters say will create rural jobs and boost economic development, but critics say similar laws have failed to deliver on promised jobs and tax revenues, with investors profiting from the deals even if the businesses they fund never create another job. Utah Republican Gov. Gary Herbert signed a similar law in March, while other states have proposed such laws.

Georgia's tax credit law "provides $60 million in tax credits to companies that invest in businesses in rural parts of the state," Michelle Baruchman reports for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Several state lawmakers who are considered candidates for statewide runs in 2018 supported the measure as an effort to boost parts of the state that have seen rising unemployment rates and slowed growth." (Stateline graphic: Rural jobs bills)
"However, the bill narrowly escaped the chopping block," Baruchman writes. "Lobbyists for national capital companies that could benefit from the incentives pushed the bill through in the final hours of the 2017 legislative session despite criticism from Senate Democrats and Republicans who pointed to the spotty records of similar programs that made big money for the investment companies even if no jobs are created."

Similar laws have caused confusion, Jen Fifield reports for Stateline. "Economists and policy analysts say the programs are so complex, and the promises so appealing, that states typically don’t take a close look at them until it’s too late. Most state offices that have studied the programs have found that the jobs and revenue promised would not materialize, and recommended the programs be shut down, changed or not extended. In some instances, state audits found that the programs lacked transparency and accountability."

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