Though some members voiced reluctance, the House approved a bill that calls for issuing $106 million in bonds, with most of the money earmarked to provide incentives for Electrolux Inc. to build a new plant in Memphis.
Only Rep. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, spoke directly against the legislation, HB2134, declaring it would “steal” taxpayer money from across the state to help just one area and a huge multi-national corporation.
Others said they did not like the need to provide companies with incentive, but there is little choice.
“We can either do that (give incentives to companies) or we can just sink into oblivion from the economic development standpoint,” said McCormick.
The bill passed 91-2 with other representatives either abstaining or listed as not present. The measure now goes to the Senate.
Legislative staff estimates the total cost, once interest and other expenses are paid on the 20-year bond, at more than $173 million.
Meanwhile, former Economic Development Commissioner Matt Kisber canceled a widely reported appointment with the state’s lieutenant governor, reports Joe White.
Ron Ramsey announced last week he would have a meeting with Governor Bredesen’s top business recruiter to ask about the details of business incentive plans struck near the end of that administration. But private citizen Matt Kisber called Ramsey to cancel.
“He thought that we were going to have a media event, I suppose. Nothing could be further from the truth .. I just wanted to try to figure out what we have promised some of these companies, because keep in mind, the legislature is the ones who have to vote on these appropriations.”
Ramsey has raised questions about exactly what the state promised to the Electrolux Corporation and Amazon-dot-com. He says paying an incentive to attract out-of-state jobs may not be fair to companies already in the state.