COLUMBIA — When it comes to revealing which companies have received public subsidies and how many jobs they created, Georgia and South Carolina are among the nation’s least transparent.
That’s according to a report, “Show Us the Subsidized Jobs,” that found that all but four states post some information online showing which companies are receiving economic development subsidies from the government.
The bottom line: It’s hard to tell if taxpayers are getting their money’s worth when they give companies development subsidies.
“Aside from a handful of holdouts, state governments now accept the idea that the public has a right to online data about which companies are receiving taxpayer-funded job subsidies.” said Greg LeRoy, executive director of the non-partisan Good Jobs First research center, which issued the report.
“But with unemployment still high, Americans need to know how many jobs and what kind of wages and benefits their taxpayer investments are generating,” he said in a news release.
Georgia tied for 41st place with Maine and North Dakota. South Carolina scored more poorly — 45th place — in a tie with Hawaii and Nevada, according to the Good Jobs First report.
Meanwhile, three-fourths of major state development programs still do not reveal the actual jobs created or workers trained, and only one in 11 discloses wages actually paid.
Although Georgia and South Carolina are both controlled by Republicans, the report authors found that the level and quality of transparency for company subsidies do not follow a “red” and “blue” state trend.
“With most programs still failing to disclose actual jobs created or wages paid, taxpayers cannot even begin to weigh costs versus benefits,” LeRoy said. “Taxpayers have the right to know exactly what they are getting in return for their economic development investments.”
The researchers evaluated states by looking at subsidy dollar amounts, job-creation numbers, wage levels in those jobs, the geographic location of the subsidized facility, and whether the project involved a relocation.
The top-rated states were Illinois and Michigan, but the report notes that even their scores would be near-failing as report card grades.