by Ari Armstrong
The following article originally appeared at Boulder Weekly on July 20, 2006.
I've had a heck of a time getting information from certain state bureaucrats regarding corporate welfare. I asked Kimberly McNulty of the Colorado Tourism Office to send me the survey questions used in a study conducted by Longwoods International that favors corporate welfare for tourism. No reply.
I also asked Sue Piatt, listed with the staff of "Domestic Business Development Programs" under the Office of Economic Development (OED), for the survey questions. I asked her for additional information about how the study was conducted and about the nature of a "Chevy Colorado promotion" mentioned in the study. I asked her, "[H]ow much has the state paid Longwoods, by year, for all services, since 1986?"
Even though Piatt promised me the information by June 20, I have yet to hear back from her.
Last fall, I asked several questions of Brian Vogt, director of the OED. I asked him how much he makes, how much money from various sources (state and federal) has gone to fund business grants, and which "corporations... were awarded EDC [Economic Development Commission] grants prior to 2001, but paid by EDC, in part or in whole, since 2001."
On Oct. 1, 2005, Vogt wrote to me, "I'd be happy to... look into your other inquiries next week." I still haven't heard back from him.
These bureaucrats are starting to hurt my feelings. I'm starting to think that the lack of reply is more than mere oversight. It's as though they hold it against me the fact that I call for the elimination of their positions and offices.
There is no room in civil society for corporate welfare. Taking money by force from people who earn it to subsidize politically favored businesses is morally wrong and economically destructive.
By the way, I also asked Vogt to explain how the state's corporate welfare spending squares with Article XI, Section 2, of the state constitution, which states, "Neither the state, nor any county, city, [etc.] shall make any donation or grant to, or in aid of... any corporation or company..."
Fortunately, the EDC publishes quite a lot of information about its grants, even if not all the information I'd like. The report for 2005 was issued in February and is available online.
The budget bill for the year, House Bill 06-1385, also lists at least part of the spending for "Economic Development Programs." It's in the same section as the budget for the governor.
The total budget for "development" is listed as more than $10 million, more than $6 million of which is general funds. The EDC gets nearly a million of that. (You may remember the category of "general funds" from the debate over Referendum C. Even while the total state budget increased every year, general funds were cut for two years.)
"Projects funded" by the EDC in 2005, listed as contracted or pending and payable over several years, exceed $3.5 million (and this doesn't count "incentives" from other sources).
We had to witness a "special session" to make sure illegal immigrants are cut off from welfare. But the legislature could handle funding corporate welfare in the regular session, no problem.
The EDC report lists the status of Group Publishing, Inc., the publisher of Christian material I wrote about last year (see "Corporate welfare for Jesus," Sept. 8, 2005). "The City of Loveland committed to $232,000 in incentives for this project. The EDC approved an incentive grant of $64,000..." Because if there's anything God needs, it's forced wealth transfers from Colorado taxpayers.
"Group Publishing completed their building expansion activities in October 2005 and have been hiring additional employees. EDC funds have not yet been disbursed." The amount of money is tied to the number of jobs. EDC neglects to point out that forcibly transferring the money costs jobs elsewhere. If those jobs are really worthwhile for Group, it can afford to fund them without subsidy.
Among the new initiatives are those for Raytheon in Aurora, the Limon Golf Course, and the Colorado Association of Sports Commissions.
On July 9, The Denver Post noted that "coal-fired locomotives" in the state may become "the target of state environmental regulators concerned about the output of soot, ash and sulfur." I don't think this is properly a regulatory matter, but neither do I think that environmentalists should be forced to subsidize air pollution.
One of the coal trains is the Cumbres & Toltec. "The EDC previously provided $90,000 for passenger car and depot repairs in 2002-2003, and $150,000 for car maintenance and facility repairs in 2004-2005. The EDC approved a new grant of $200,000 to assist the C&TSRR to construct an addition to the Antonito passenger car facility for refurbishing passenger cars. These funds will be used to match $200,000 in federal transportation enhancement funds approved by CDOT."
"Intel is the world's leading manufacturer of microprocessors," the EDC notes. Therefore, obviously, it needs a subsidy from Colorado taxpayers.
"The company plans to purchase a building in Fort Collins to house the existing employees and to create up to an additional 100 new jobs... The city of Fort Collins has committed $260,000 in incentives to this project. The EDC approved an incentive of $250,000, or $2500 per job..." The report lists the deal as "pending."
Intel inside? Inside your wallet.