RALEIGH – Think way back to the summer and fall of 2016 during the tight North Carolina gubernatorial race between incumbent Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and Democrat then-Attorney General Roy Cooper. During that campaign Cooper recycled his talking points over and over again, one being that there would be more money for textbooks and teachers if McCrory would quit issuing so many ‘Corporate Tax Giveaways.’
A late night discovery of thousands of absentee ballots in Durham County put Cooper over the top in that race, winning by around 10,000 votes, and his vetoes have been getting overridden by Republicans in the General Assembly ever since he moved into the mansion on Blount Street.
The change in residence must have really done a number on Cooper, because he is suddenly corporate incentives’ biggest fan, giving away 100s of millions of taxpayer dollars to large corporations.
Americans For Prosperity (AFP) launched an initiative last week to highlight just how completely Cooper has changed his stripes on the issue of Corporate Welfare. The effort is cleverly labeled ‘Reverse Robin Hood Cooper.’
North Carolina’s corporate welfare story begins with the One North Carolina Fund and the Jobs Development Investment Grant program.
Since taking office, Gov. Cooper has committed to spending over $120 million in taxpayer money to pad the pockets of special interests.
Credit Suisse and Infosys alone have been granted over $62 million. Gov. Cooper is also trying to make deals with public money to lure Amazon to North Carolina – even after offering tech company FoxConn $540 million, only to lose them to Wisconsin.
$120 million in 9 months!? What has changed? Well, for starters, Cooper is now the one holding the scissors at ribbon-cutting ceremonies at which he claims credit for creating jobs amid an abundance of pomp and circumstance, as is custom for politicians near and far. And it’s not as if Cooper doesn’t have a choice in the matter; JDIG and the One NC Fund are discretionary funds for which the governor has the final call as to whether or not to offer the taxpayer funded incentive.
According to Cooper’s previous logic, each time he offers millions in tax breaks to a large corporation, he takes those dollars away from school children and overworked teachers.
To be clear, government does not create any of these jobs, but politicians are happy to give away your tax dollars in a naive attempt to grow the economy by picking winners and losers.
The taxpayers are always the losers. More from AFP:
Corporate welfare policies give taxpayer money to big corporations as an incentive to “create jobs” in North Carolina.
But wealthy corporations can afford employees on their own—without taking money from hard-working North Carolinians. Corporate welfare doesn’t help taxpayers, it only hurts them.
We need Gov. Cooper and North Carolina lawmakers to side with taxpayers instead of special interests. Tax rates should be low and applied fairly, to only fund the core functions of government; not corporate welfare schemes.
Corporate welfare is not pro-growth or pro-freedom.
To be sure, Cooper is not the only one that suffers from the delusion that Corporate Welfare is a winning game for the State and the taxpayers. Republicans consistently fall for this false choice time and again as well, as is evidenced by the Republican legislative majority’s (and former Republican administration’s) efforts to increase and make permanent Corporate Welfare programs as a focus of economic development policy.
Luckily, Republicans in the General Assembly have, at the same time, been lowering individual and corporate taxes, cleaning up regulations, and otherwise demonstrating fiscal conservatism, all of which make North Carolina more attractive to business leaders while also paying deference to taxpayers and extant local business owners.
As lawmakers return to Jones Street in the run-up to 2018 midterm elections, and Cooper continues his about-face on Corporate Tax Giveaways, be suspicious of any economic development policies, or ribbon-cutting ceremonies, that treat your wallet less kindly than that of the Fortune 500 company.