The Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) has been on shaky ground over the past year. In June, the office lost it’s Executive Director, Spencer Eccles, after five years of service.
However, GOED’s real problems took place in October, when a scathing audit was released that accused GOED of purposefully misinforming “stakeholders, including the public, regarding projected wages that a newly incented company will pay.” The audit went on to say that GOED provided “questionable incentive rewards” to companies by altering the projected wage earnings of companies who received GOED funds. In other words, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development was accused of falsely boosting the number of jobs they claimed to have brought into the state by giving companies that didn’t pay high enough wages extremely lucrative incentives, including tax incentives and bonds paid for by the general public.
Lawmakers vowed that change would be coming in the wake of the report, and Senator Aaron Osmond (Republican – West Jordan) has chosen to take a swing at reforming GOED by proposing some important reforms in SB 18 – Governor’s Office of Economic Development Revisions.
The bill itself is massive, just under 350 pages in all.
If successful, the legislation would create a GOED board, a GOED council, and the GOED office, adding greater accountability between the various organizations within the department.
The GOED office would be in charge of the the day-to-day activities and, under the proposed legislation, would be required to consult with the GOED board prior to making any change to priorities or policies under which the office operates.
The board, in turn, receives greater clarification. In short, the board must be made up of 15 members appointed by the governor, have greater variability in both geography and economic interests, and will work with the office’s Executive Director to make changes to the office as necessary.
Finally, the GOED Council will be made up of 11 members ranging from the various governmental agencies focused on economic growth such as the Rural Partnership Council and the Economic Development Corporation of Utah. This council will work directly with the governor to make recommendations to changes GOED, and ensure that the department gives priority to technologies, industries, an geographical areas that could benefit from economic growth.
In all, these reforms are reasonable considering the mess that GOED has managed to get itself into. This legislation isn’t an over reaction, if anything it might be a little on the tame side. But it will hopefully provide at least some greater oversight for how GOED uses taxpayer dollars.
To contact Senator Osmond, Click Here or call 801-253-6853
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