Bob Mercer thinks Senate Bill 235, the bipartisan omnibus economic development bill, is a proper step toward more openness about South Dakota's corporate welfare system. I've noted my approval of the openness portions of SB 235, especially the provision that the Governor's Office of Economic Development must publish along with the names of any recipient of our big corporate handouts "a statement of why the project would not have occurred in South Dakota without the reinvestment payment" (SB 235, Section 34, Clause 5).
That's not quite as high a hurdle as making these corporate welfare recipients pass a drug test, but it's something.
My naturally cynical friend the Displaced Plainsman doesn't think that statement amounts to a hill of beans:
My first reaction to that criterion is snarky: When did Miss Cleo come out of retirement and move to South Dakota?
On a more serious note, won't any business with a semi-competent CEO be able to point to competing offers in other states and threaten to take the business there if South Dakota doesn't pony up the cash? How hard is it to manufacture competition from Itstoodamnhot, Mississippi? Exactly how is the state going to be able to prove that the business would not have located here without the incentives? [LK, "A Minor Musing about Precognition and SB 235," The Displaced Plainsman, 2013.03.18]
The Displaced Plainsman is right: this requirement of SB 235 is more flim-flammery than formal proof. The Governor's people and/or the welfare recipients' PR departments will not write down anything different from the B.S. lines they previously fed themselves in their closed-door meetings and or on the links at Dakota Dunes.
The difference SB 235 makes with this provision is that now they'll at least have to put that B.S. on the record, for all to see. And I like to believe that forcing people to put their B.S. on the record will help us catch some of those B.S. artists in the act in the future... and may deter some politicians and entrepreneurs from engaging in such deception in the first place.