Bipartisan bill tests economic development incentives’ effectiveness

State Rep. Brad Mayo, an Oxford Republican, and Sen. David Blount, a Jackson Democrat, may be on different sides of the political aisle, but they can agree on a good idea.

That idea is legislation to require a regular analysis of the incentives offered to lure economic development projects to the state.

Mayo, an investment adviser in his first term in the state House, said he and Blount were in the same 2012 meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures in Chicago where the topic of the need for additional oversight of economic incentive packages offered by the states was discussed.

As a conservative, Mayo said watching out for all expenditures of taxpayer money is something to be taken seriously.

“It made all the sense in the world to put these safeguards in place,” Mayo said.

The legislation, which was signed into law by Gov. Phil Bryant this week, authorizes the University Research Center to analyze the incentives provided by the state and submit a report at the beginning of each new four-year term of the Mississippi Legislature.

The House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees will hold a joint hearing to hear the report of the University Research Center, which is the research arm of the Institutions of Higher Learning.

Mayo said the Legislature then would have the option to make changes to the law, if needed, based on the report.

He said the report will ensure that the state is getting what was promised for the incentives that were provided. For instance, did the company receiving the incentives create the jobs that were promised and make the investment that was promised?

Daily Journal
4/25/14