Tennessee General Assembly should keep incentive process transparent

Tennessee General Assembly should keep incentive process transparent

February 25th, 2012 in Opinion Free Press

Companies have an interest in keeping certain financial data private, so a state is justified in not divulging that information when it considers granting incentives to a business to get it to build or expand in the state.

But lawmakers of both parties are rightly skeptical of legislation backed by Gov. Bill Haslam that would keep not only sensitive financial data but also the ownership of companies getting taxpayer-funded grants confidential.

True, the state might lose some economic development if a company went elsewhere upon realizing it would have to make its ownership public to get an incentive. But that concern is outweighed by the need for transparency when taxpayer dollars are at stake and by the possibility of conflicts of interest -- a possibility that transparency may head off.

Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey says the bill in its current form likely would fail. It would deserve to.

And as such, it should be revised.