DON’T LAUGH … YOU’RE “THEM”
Under Gov. Nikki Haley, South Carolina’s “closing fund” – the state’s corporate welfare fund – has gone from $5 million to over $40 million. That’s an 800 percent increase.
Bear in mind: this isn’t just tax breaks, fee-in-lieu-of-tax agreements, and the like. This is straight-up cash doled out to specific companies. In many cases state officials dole out grants to specific companies in smaller amounts – and by “smaller” we mean $100,000 or $200,000 – but the fund is used for mammoth welfare deals, too. Last summer, for example, we learned about a $35.7 million grant to a single company.
Of course, the companies use the money for all sorts of apparently legitimate purposes like land acquisition and “infrastructure improvement.” Which raises the question: Is the Department of Commerce doing its best – or doing anything – to ensure the companies use the grants for the purposes for which they were given? Somehow we doubt it. When the state gave Boeing $120 million a year ago (not even the closing fund has that much money, so we had to go in debt to finance it), state officials couldn’t or wouldn’t say what the money was for.
And here’s another relevant question. Why can’t companies with annual profits in the billions afford to buy their own land and build their own frontage roads?