Gov. Bill Haslam responded to an audit released Tuesday from the Tennessee Comptroller suggesting “serious and pervasive problems” plague a state-run program that subsidizes start-up companies with tax incentives and other giveaways.
“Without adequate documentation, top (Economic and Community Development Department) officials might have difficulty determining if the required investment strategy benchmarks are being met and if investments are free from fraud, waste or abuse,” a release issued by the Tennessee Comptroller stated. “Furthermore, the lack of documentation raises questions about how accurate reports can be provided to the governor’s office.”
Haslam, a Republican, indicated he believes better oversight and monitoring is in order for the program, which was begun in 2009 under the administration of former Gov Phil Bredesen.
Haslam said he wants to see the state “oversee (TNInvestco) in a fair and transparent manner” before he’d support expanding it.
Asked if he, like other members of his party, worries TNInvestco tends to cost taxpayers more than it’s worth, Haslam said, “The jury’s out.”
“Programs that are funded with tax credits do cost money,” said the governor. “It is nice up front to do that, but down the road it is less revenue to the states. That is part of why we will be evaluating the true cost to the state, and how many jobs we produce out of those investments.”