Job Creation: The Latest Taxpayer-Funded ScandalOctober 23rd, 2013 9:19 am David Cay Johnston
Republican governors are actually creating jobs, and sometimes big-paying jobs. However, these are not jobs for you or your neighbors, but for their friends — also known as campaign donors — a new report shows.
These newly created jobs do not manufacture products. They don’t even provide a service. Well, technically they do — serving up your tax dollars to politically connected businesses while erecting barriers to make sure the public knows as little as possible.
And just what are the new jobs being created by governors like Jan Brewer in Arizona, John Kasich in Ohio, Terry Branstad in Iowa and Scott Walker in Wisconsin?
Why, they are on the staffs of public-private partnerships, or PPPs, whose purpose is to give your tax dollars away to corporations.
If you think people who own companies should invest their own dough, and if they do it right are entitled to their riches, you must be living in another era. These days hotels, big-box retail stores, medical offices and the occasional factory are built using your tax dollars for all or a good chunk of the cost, a story detailed in my book, Free Lunch.
This latest development in the rapid growth of corporate socialism is in a report being issued today by Good Jobs First, a tiny nonprofit research group in Washington, D.C.
For years this small group, operating on a budget of about a million bucks a year, has mined the public record to find golden nuggets of fact documenting the upward redistribution of wealth and income that is at the heart of America’s economic woes. It is a story seldom mentioned in the news.
The new report is titled, fittingly, “Creating Scandals Instead of Jobs: The Failures of Privatized State Economic Development Agencies.”
“State efforts to promote economic development,” the report begins, “have traditionally been carried out by public agencies such as commerce departments, which both market the state to potential corporate investors and administer the subsidies that are frequently used to lure companies. In late 2010, however, several newly elected governors called for a different approach. Claiming that their state agencies were no longer effective, the governors-elect called for the creation of “public-private partnerships” (PPPs) to take over the functions.”
These jobs giving away your tax dollars must require tremendous skill, based on what they pay.
Consider Don Cardon, hired by Arizona governor Jan Brewer in 2011 to run the Arizona Commerce Authority with at least $25 million of taxpayer and private funds to give away. Cardon’s salary was $300,000, triple what the finger-wagging governor makes.
He also got a $50,000 signing bonus, a grand a month car allowance, and the prospect of a $75,000 performance bonus if he was really good at giving away money to companies. That was more than enough to put him well into the top half of one percent of all workers that year. But Cardon quit and thus had to give back part of his signing bonus.
Good news for Cardon, though, that the private side of the public-private partnership approved a $60,000 bonus. Cardon then took a job raising money for — who else — the Arizona Commerce Authority through a private partner, called Team ACA, that does not disclose its donors.
Kasich, the Ohio governor who postures as a wise steward of public funds, gave away almost a half-billion dollars in his first year as governor, setting a new record for the state by a wide margin.