Two things would seem certain about S.C. Research Authority Chief Executive Bill Mahoney: He has a very high opinion of his agency, and a rather skewed idea about what constitutes “the government.”
Last week, the Quad City (Iowa) Times wrote a story about the Iowa Innovation Corp., a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization that can accept tax-deductible donations. The Iowa Innovation Corp. is expected to set up an entity called the Innovation Fund.
The Innovation Fund is modeled on SC Launch, an affiliate of SCRA, Tina Hoffman, spokeswoman for the Iowa Economic Development Authority, told the Times.
The Quad City publication also interviewed Mahoney, who said SC Launch’s track record is so good when it comes to allocating funds to start-up companies that when a firm gets money from the SCRA affiliate “it’s almost like a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.”
Mahoney then added, “We do pick winners, but we’re not the government.”
The facts, however, indicate otherwise.
SCRA, chartered through legislation in 1983, is a state-controlled technology and real estate development and management company.
The Research Authority does not receive direct state appropriations. But upon its creation, “the General Assembly gave the SCRA approximately 1,400 acres of undeveloped land, estimated at that time to be worth $10.7 million, and $500,000,” says an August 2005 report by the Legislative Audit Council. SCRA has received other land grants since then, too.
In addition, SC Launch receives $6 million annually indirectly from the state in the form of contributions that are 100 percent deductible against state income taxes.
Since 2006, approximately $36 million has been diverted to SC Launch through the Industry Partners Fund, money that otherwise would have gone to the state’s general fund to provide for such core services as education and law enforcement.
Legally funneling tax dollars from one destination to another? That certainly sounds a lot like government, doesn’t it?