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LETTER: EEZ data in Missouri not verified

Saturday, June 16, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:17 p.m. CDT, Monday, June 18, 2012

Our Missouri State auditor reported in 2010 that enhanced enterprise zone data to the state were not adequately verified, economic benefits reported to the Missouri state legislature were overstated and "these weaknesses make it difficult to determine whether the programs are an effective use of state resources."

We have the very same difficulties concerning EEZ data in Columbia. Accurate poverty and unemployment data for Columbia, needed to apply for EEZs, is old or missing. Data that show EEZs were cost effective at providing jobs or have worked well in other Missouri cities have not been provided.

No data exist to show that Columbia residents themselves are willing to cut Columbia's public tax base, which supports our city's services and infrastructure, to give tax cuts to private corporations. There is also no data showing that Columbians are willing to call their own neighborhoods falsely but legally "blighted" so that private businesses can qualify for tax breaks within EEZs.

However, we do have data that show disastrous effects of corporate tax abatements and other financial perks in other Missouri cities, such as the Mamtek failure in Moberly, state line hopping by corporations in Kansas City and Independence's payment of $3 million to $4 million dollars per year out of their public general fund to keep a private shopping center project afloat.

Many examples of failed programs are outlined in the book given to the City Council and the EEZ Board, "The Great American Jobs Scam: Corporate Tax Dodging and the Myth of Job Creation" by Greg LeRoy. His book can be read in full, for free, at www.greatamericanjobsscam.com, and there are more details, including specific Missouri information, on his website, www.goodjobsfirst.org. To see two online videos of LeRoy's webcam presentation at the Daniel Boone Public Library, search "Civic webcam 5 31 12 Greg LeRoy" on YouTube.

Without supportive data that show EEZs are a good idea, our City Council must not pass EEZs.

Linda Green is a Columbia resident.


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