Goshen News, Goshen, IN

October 25, 2013

Tax breaks lead to jobs ... we think


Goshen News

---- — A new study says the Indiana Economic Development Corp. is effective at trolling for jobs and businesses for the state. We are glad to hear that. But we want to know more.

The study by the state’s Center for Business and Economic Research looked at the many services provided by the agency, but didn’t look into a key area that politicians and Hoosiers would like to know — are the number of jobs being promised by companies receiving tax breaks actually being created? We would like the answer to that question be provided to state residents.

ACCORDING TO The Associated Press, the IEDC uses an auditing company to track that, but has not released the figures for how many jobs were filled at companies that received tax incentives. Stating expected jobs created is part of the process companies go through for applying for state tax incentives. So why can’t IEDC find out how well companies are doing at creating those jobs?

To be fair, we know that companies can only give an estimate of the number of jobs expected to be created by an expansion or the addition of new equipment. Sometimes the marketplace makes an unexpected U-turn for a company. But, state legislators and Hoosier taxpayers should be given an annual number for their return on investment. Such an accounting is common practice in even the smallest of businesses that want to find out if their investments are paying off.

IF OUR READERS wonder why this issue is important to them, consider this: The IEDC granted 107 tax incentive deals in Elkhart County from 2005 through 2013. This period spans the rising, pre-recession economy, the recession years and the current recovery period. Elkhart County has led the nation in job creation, mostly due to the rebound in the recreational vehicle industry. That’s a lot of projects for one Indiana county.

We think that most of the jobs promised in the local tax deals have been created, but it’s just our guess based on what we see in the local economy. We think the IEDC should track jobs promised vs. jobs realized so scientific, accurate data can be used to make decisions on the state’s economy and the use of tax dollars. Without a history of accurate numbers, legislators, like us, are just guessing the right policies are being followed.