Gov. McCrory’s proposed reorganization of Commerce

In his recommended budget adjustments for 2014-15, one of Gov. Pat McCrory’s proposals was:

Reorganize the Department of Commerce effective July 1, to establish a Public Private Partnership (PPP) for Economic Development to perform several core functions including economic development activities that are currently provided by the department with anticipated recurring savings of 5% to the state.

While I am sympathetic with the cost-savings aspect of the idea, I would have wished that the governor involved the private sector in the state’s economic development by letting the private sector take the lead. Not by joining in a partnership with government.

The governor and legislature have done much good to encourage job creation and economic development. Cutting taxes and regulations and basing road-building decisions on objective data are all empirically proven ways to boost economic growth.

Those are ways government can encourage job creation and growth — by smoothing the way for job creators. Government’s role in the field of commerce is that of officiating, not taking over the game.

My concerns about this Public/Private Partnership for Economic Development are the same as when I first heard of it. I worry that the “public” side would keep it flush with taxpayer money while picking winners based on politics, and that the “private” side would cloak its activities in secrecy. The temptations of cronyism in such a scheme would be overwhelming.

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