The Business Council appreciates the Legislature’s interest in assuring increased public information on economic development programs.
However, we oppose this legislation because of its broad, vague applicability and data disclosure provisions.
We believe any legislation imposing expanded reporting mandates on economic development program participants, and increased public disclosures of such data, should name the specific programs it applies to, and assure than any reporting mandate be based on a clear nexus between the nature of the economic development benefit provided and the performance data being demanded by the state. Moreover, programs that already have specifically defined eligibility criteria or participant reporting requirements should be exempt from any new reporting/disclosure mandates.
Specific concerns regarding A.8175 include the following:
- The bill defines “economic development benefits,” as grants, loans, tax credits, reduced tax rates “allocated through the corporation” (i.e., the Urban Development Corporation), suggesting that its reporting mandate only applies to programs whose benefits are proactively “allocated thru” UDC. However, the bill also says that the new reporting program must include information on “economic development benefits” (as defined) “or any other benefits received through other state agencies.” If this is intended to apply to any benefit of any kind provided through any state agency, this is an overly expansive bill that applies to programs with fixed statutory criteria and existing reporting mandates.
- The bill requires a new searchable database for information “for the prior state fiscal year,” but then demands information covering “the beginning of [a recipient’s] project period”, job commitments over the life of a project, the value of economic development benefits received since the beginning of a project period, present value of future credits, etc.
- The bill requires submission of data unrelated to certain incentive programs. As example, it requires reporting on total employment by a recipient of any economic development assistance, regardless of whether job count was an eligibility factor (e.g., for a capital investment credit, where the statutory credit did not related to existing or new jobs.)
- Finally, the bill authorizes UDC to “request any data” from participants “deemed necessary,” rather than the specific data listed in the bill.
In short, the bill’s vague and inconsistent provisions make the true scope of this new mandate difficult to identify. Our concern is that it would apply not only to discretionary capital programs administered through the UDC (as authorized by the legislative), but to a wide range of tax credits and other programs that already have fixed statutory criteria for eligibility and calculation of benefits.
As such, we urge the Assembly to reject this legislation.