General Assembly split on value of ‘Pay to Play’ incentives

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NOR’EASTERN N.C. — For several months, we have been talking about the prospects of an auto manufacturer locating in Edgecombe County.

This is considered by most of the state House and by the Governor to be a potential “game changer” in terms of job creation and overall economic growth – but a majority of the state Senate is not convinced.

This division among our elected leaders was never more evident than in the announcement this week that Volvo has decided to build a $500 million plant in South Carolina.

The North Carolina Senate believes economic development can best be achieved through low taxes, good infrastructure and good education. While this is true, and should be enough, the pure fact is that companies have become conditioned to tax incentives, and that will not change.

As long as there are states that “Pay to Play,” they will be the winners and states like North Carolina will be the losers.

All over this state, developers from shopping centers to hotels — and everything in between — will use the ‘jobs-created card’ as a means of obtaining tax incentives from government. If everyone decided not to offer tax credits, we would all be judged by a different set of standards.

Absent that, this form of economic development will continue to pit one state against another.

The Governor is working hard to help transform our state and grow our economy. Many of the announcements he has made about business starting or expanding, have received tax credits from local government. Apparently, the Senate does not mind if incentives are paid locally, as long as they do not have to do so on the State level.

The Governor has just announced a $400 million surplus that he plans to put into various projects that will spur economic development through the use of bond funds. Many people oppose this as risky for the state’s taxpayers, should our nation fall into another recession.

But the people doing the complaining about bond funding are also opposed to tax incentives, including the Historic Tax Credits that were used to rehab the Hotel Hinton in Edenton.

So where do we go from here? Will we achieve our potential for job growth under these circumstances? We can only hope so!!