THE FIRST AMENDMENT
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Updated: February 5, 2013 6:14AM
When the Indiana General Assembly convenes in a few days, it should put on a fast track legislation that would make the Indiana Economic Development Corp.’s deal-making with private businesses far more transparent.
The bill, introduced by state Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, would require companies that receive tax incentives to report how many jobs they actually create each year. The public would have access to that information under open-records laws.
As it stands, the IEDC, which was created in 2005 to replace the Department of Commerce, operates as a quasi-government agency with the authority to make deals that include tax breaks and other public-financed incentives. But it’s also exempted by law from having to disclose important details surrounding those deals based on the argument that sharing such information with the public might hinder the state’s ability to attract new businesses.
That’s not an illegitimate concern in a state that desperately needs to diversify its economic base and to attract better-paying jobs. Yet, transparency in government — and with it accountability — shouldn’t be pushed aside easily.
And legitimate questions have been raised from multiple sources about just how many jobs actually have been created — rather than merely promised — through the work of the IEDC.
It’s not only in the public’s best interests to know the reality behind job-creation claims, but it could be to state and local officials’ benefit as well. If the jobs number is real, and can be documented publicly, then let’s press forward hard and fast in the current direction.
For now, however, state leaders are essentially asking Hoosiers to trust that the reported numbers are accurate, without independent verification.
Yes, Indiana needs more jobs, and better jobs. But there’s no good reason to believe that job creation can’t occur in concert with transparency and accountability.
The Indianapolis Star