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Corporate Disclosure and Transparency in State Budgets

2010 Shared Multi-Stated Agenda: Corporate Transparency in State Budgets

As states increasingly enact budget disclosure rules - "google government" as
some have deemed it — states should enact policies to address the missing piece of disclosure, namely
requiring full public information about how corporate interests that benefit from government contracts,
economic subsidies and tax breaks are actually spending the money received.     Government contractors
and subsidy recipients should disclose the number of people employed, their location, hours worked and
wages paid on each contract, total contracts and subsidies received by each company, and a continuing
accounting of the costs of both contract cost overruns and subsidy payments.   Large businesses should
reveal their total revenue generated in the percentage of that revenue paid in state corporate income taxes.

Privatization During an Economic Downturn: Still Inefficient and Problematic

The lure is the supposed promise that privatization will deliver a short-term budget fix.  Yet many privatization efforts, as this Dispatch will highlight, have cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and botched services for the public.  That privatization continues to move forward despite such a poor track record reflects pure ideology that the private market delivers the most efficient outcomes, even without demonstrable results.  Some states may also be making the more cynical decision to pursue immediate short-term infusions of capital at the expense of long-term financial cost in pursuit of short-term electoral gains.  In any case, privatization comes at the expense of long-term investments in the community, sustainable budget policy and public accountability.

In Wake of Scandals, Lawmakers Seek to Limit Film Tax Credits

Two weeks ago, both the Director and Deputy Director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development (IDED), Mike Tramontina and Vince Lintz, resigned abruptly, and the manager of the Iowa Film Office, Tom Wheeler, was forced to step down following allegations of corruption and abuse of public funds. Specifically, an internal IDED audit discovered issues with the state’s film tax credit including improper oversight, the purchase of luxury vehicles unnecessary for the completion of films, and filmmakers claiming payments for multiple production jobs.

Some States Wasting Money on Job Bidding Wars and Corporate Subsidies

Overall, federal recovery spending is working as intended, helping states provide needed services and avoid layoffs that would be worsening unemployment rates.  The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that these funds are providing states with 40 percent of what is needed to help their budgets in balance over the next few fiscal years.  The recovery plan has provided states with flexibility in addressing key programs and priorities. Unfortunately, a number of states have wasted budget funds on trying to steal jobs from one another, as highlighted by Good Jobs First.

Privatization Update: Recent News from across the Country

Illinois Legislature Passes Pay-to-Play Contracting Reform, Bill Awaits Governor's Signature

Illinois stands out as a state famous for corrupt politics.  For generations, patronage and pay-to-play politics have been raised to an art form by state and local politicians.  The state's last governor is in jail for racketeering.  The current governor is under federal investigation for allegedly giving jobs and no-bid contracts to campaign supporters, more than 200 of whom have given the governor checks for exactly $25,000.  Advocates of good government such as the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform have fought for years to bring the states' corrupt government officials to heel.