The Alabama legislature just passed a bill that would make the state’s use of economic development incentives more transparent.
Alabama Law ( Photo: Wikimedia Commons )
This is a big win for those who care about government transparency and accountability
The recently enacted Incentive Transparency Act requires state departments of commerce to publish online the names of companies that receive incentives for economic development. “Job creation” is the main rationale for providing companies with packages worth hundreds of millions of dollars, but the public has no way of knowing how many jobs were created in the end minus what they pay the worker. To date, Alabama’s state subsidy programs have cost taxpayers billions of dollars and none have been transparent.
Alabama’s Transparency Act includes four new pieces of legislation that will apply to the programs and purportedly promote economic development
The program will cost state residents $475 million annually and will provide tax credits and rebates based on the company’s payroll and investments through 2027. This includes the updated and expanded Alabama Employment Act.
Alabama has had large manufacturing projects for years and has benefited from huge subsidies. The only reason basic details such as company names and investment sizes are publicly available is for journalistic research. Transparency is the most important prerequisite for good and just economic development. With information like this, Alabamians can ensure that every taxpayer who donates to a company creates well-paying, safe jobs and benefits.