Gov. Pat McCrory’s push to create a new incentive program met stiff resistance in a House committee Wednesday, as lawmakers recommended rejecting the Senate-approved measure.
Republicans and Democrats asked tough questions about a plan to create a new $20 million “closing fund” – at the sole discretion of the state commerce secretary – to offer upfront cash incentives to companies considering a major economic development project in North Carolina.
Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker tried to reassure lawmakers, saying the opportunity is ripe to lure an auto or aviation industry manufacturer to North Carolina.
“This particular fund is intended for the large transformational projects,” she said.
The encouragement did little to sway lawmakers, who recommended the House not agree to the bill, and force the Senate into a conference committee to work out the differences. The bill also includes a controversial provision to cap local governments’ ability to levy extra sales taxes, a measure that hits Wake and Mecklenburg counties. The House vote is expected Thursday.
Speaker Pro Tem Paul “Skip” Stam of Apex peppered Decker with questions. He expressed concern about how the bill favors one company over another, includes limited protections to get back money if a company goes bankrupt and allows a company to locate in a thriving area of the state, rather than economically distressed regions.
Democratic state Rep. Susi Hamilton of Wilmington asked Decker whether Republicans and the governor changed their position on incentives.
“This is an incentives bill,” she said. Decker agreed. “We are about job growth and job development,” Decker said.
Senate, House closer on regulatory reform
One of the last remaining major issues lawmakers hope to accomplish this session is another run at streamlining regulations.
On Wednesday, the Senate unveiled a new regulations bill that incorporates what both chambers want and adds a few new provisions. The 62-page bill covers regulations in administrative processes, business, state and local government, health and safety and environment.
It’s not clear what the final bill will look like. But here are some of the highlights in the environmental section:Air quality monitors: Fracking water quality tests: Name change: