scandal instead of jobs

New analysis of 9 states helps other states know what to avoid.

Three years ago, newly elected governors in several states decided to outsource economic development functions to “public-private partnerships” (PPPs).  Together with a handful of other states’ PPPs, these experiments in privatization have, by and large, become costly failures characterized by misuse of taxpayer funds, conflicts of interest, excessive executive pay and bonuses, questionable subsidy awards, exaggerated job-creation claims, lack of public disclosure of key records, and resistance to basic oversight.

A new report published by Good Jobs First, a Surdna Foundation grantee, looks at eight states with existing PPPs and one more proposed. “Creating Scandals Instead of Jobs: The Failures of Privatized State Economic Development Agencies” is available at www.goodjobsfirst.org.It is a follow-up to a study issued in February 2011when four states moved to create new PPPs.

“Things have gotten demonstrably worse in the past three years. We conclude that privatizing a state development agency is an inherently corrupting move that states should avoid or repeal,” said Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First and lead author of the study. “Taxpayers are best served by experienced public-agency employees who are fully covered by ethics and conflicts laws, open records acts, and oversight by auditors and legislators.”

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