North Carolina governor insists incentives aren’t ‘corporate giveaways’

by WorldTribune Staff, December 31, 2017

The North Carolina Democratic Party is touting Gov. Roy Cooper as “the jobs governor” for offering incentives to corporations in exchange for a promise of jobs.

Republicans say the jobs created in recent years in North Carolina are a result of changes they have made to the tax code since 2013, including lowering the tax rate on businesses.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper

“Some, even if they support state incentives programs, criticize Cooper as a hypocrite for decrying cuts to business taxes as ‘corporate giveaways’ while offering incentives to select companies that move here,” Paul Specht wrote in the Under the Dome column for the Raleigh News & Observer on Dec. 29.

Generation Opportunity, a branch of the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, says the state “should stop offering incentives altogether because it’s an unfair use of taxpayer dollars,” Specht wrote.

“We (millennials) are a generation very concerned with fairness and equality, and that same feeling applies to incentives,” said Anna Beavon Gravely, spokeswoman for Generation Opportunity’s North Carolina chapter. “Corporate welfare is taxpayer money being given to rich businesses which takes away from people who are struggling to make it.”

Cooper insists the incentives aren’t a giveaway.

“We can make targeted, accountable incentives for the creation of jobs,” the governor said. “This makes sure that the incentives that you give to companies directly result in good-paying jobs for our people. And that’s a lot different than just across-the-board giveaways to corporations and the wealthy at the expense of education and tax cuts for the middle class, particularly with no guarantee that they’ll bring good-paying jobs to our state.”

Specht noted that North Carolina is in the running for Amazon’s second headquarters. The company, which expects to spend $5 billion and eventually employ 50,000 people at the project, says it will make a decision within a year.

“Meanwhile, Toyota is on the verge of announcing where it will build an auto plant with Mazda and North Carolina is reportedly among the finalists” for a project that would create up to 4,000 jobs, Specht wrote.

In total, 54 companies have committed to invest $2.85 billion and create 12,637 jobs in the state over the next three to 12 years, according to David Rhoades, spokesman for the NC Department of Commerce.

The legislature passed and Cooper signed a budget this year that would allow larger incentive packages for companies that invest more than $4 billion in the state and create at least 5,000 jobs. Those companies wouldn’t be subject to the state’s current cap on incentive packages, Specht noted.

Donald Bryson, director of Americans for Prosperity-North Carolina, said the goal of the group’s “Reverse Robin Hood Cooper” campaign is to hold the governor accountable and raise awareness about giveaways.

“Yes, they might be creating jobs, but what they’re doing is pulling jobs from other North Carolina businesses,” Bryson said, pointing to a deal earlier in 2017 to bring Credit Suisse to Research Triangle Park. The company, which plans to hire 1,200 workers and invest $70.5 million, will get $40.2 million in state incentives if it meets its hiring and investment targets.

Bryson argues that the deal is unfair to BB&T, First Citizens and other local banks. North Carolinians “are having to pay for a foreign, Wall Street-traded bank to move here and take talent from those banks,” he said.

Ford Porter, a spokesman for Cooper, said that “instead of criticizing job creation, Republicans should work with the governor to invest in education and job training and ensure that our economy works for middle class families and not just those at the top.”

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