Government doling out taxpayer dollars to politically-connected businesses is bad enough, but this week’s Bad Bill of the Week takes that concept to even lower depths.
HB 797, Business Facilities Development, sponsored by Reps. Charles Jeter (R-Mecklenburg), Paul “Skip” Stam (R-Wake), and Tom Murry (R-Wake), would extend government-subsidized loans to groups of unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats. Specifically, the bill makes changes to the Site Infrastructure Development Fund (SIDF).
The SIDF is administered through the state’s Department of Commerce, and was “created for the purpose of stimulating economic activity and creating new jobs in the State.” According to current law, “to be eligible for SIDF assistance, a business must invest at least $100,000,000 of private funds in site development for a project that will provide jobs for at least 100 new employees.”
Basically, the Department of Commerce loans a business money, and the business is “forgiven” a portion of the loan (in other words, handed free taxpayer dollars) depending upon certain performance requirements, e.g., number of workers hired by the recipient company. The loans are typically designated for use to purchase or improve land, and under current law the loans can go either to the business directly or to local government units, state agencies or nonprofit corporations.
Under HB 797, these SIDF loans would only be eligible to go to local government units. And here is the kicker: The bill would include economic development commissions under the definition of “local government units.”
In short, under this legislation a regional economic development commission could receive a subsidized loan, use the money to acquire land, and then lease the land to a private business promising to hire workers.
So this bill would approve taxpayer dollars be given to unelected “economic development commission” bureaucrats for those bureaucrats to buy land and become landlords.
Moreover, HB 797 removes the requirement that SIDF loans be used for investment projects exceeding $100 million, but rather allows for arbitrary “performance criteria that protects the State’s investments” as part of any loan agreement.
Because it further expands the reach of taxpayer-funded corporate welfare to unelected bureaucrats, instead of working to free the economy from political power, HB 797 is this Week’s Bad Bill of the Week.