Late yesterday, NC lawmakers brought back to life a bill that had been essentially killed about 6 weeks ago in order to funnel taxpayer dollars to a paper mill in Canton. From USA Today:
The House debated the paper mill bill, which was taken off the unfavorable calendar and put through a quick Rules Committee hearing Speaker Thom Tillis called "a brief meeting around the desk," before voting for it 88-9.
The bill will give Evergreen Packaging $12 million over 6 years.
The company wants the money to help pay for new natural gas fired boilers. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is forcing it to replace its old coal-fired boilers, which the company said would cost $50 million and includes new supply lines.
Lawmakers defended the taxpayer handout saying the EPA regulations amounted to an unfunded mandate on Evergreen. They did not, however, explain why taxpayers should be forced to pay for the company's compliance. Furthermore, it is far from certain that Evergreen was going to close up shop in Canton if they did not receive the government goodies. To see the vote on the bill, click here.
All companies face compliance costs of varying degrees. It sets a very dangerous precedent by state lawmakers with this bill which forces taxpayers to foot the bill for a specific company's compliance costs. How many other businesses will now send their lobbyists to Raleigh to ask for taxpayer bailouts to pay for compliance costs?
House Speaker Thom Tillis also hinted that the crony capitalism may not be finished.
Tillis said the General Assembly could be called back to deal with economic incentive money meant for the Department of Commerce that was part of GOP split on Tuesday.
That is in reference to a newly-proposed "Job Catalyst Fund" which would be a slush fund for the Commerce Department to help bribe companies to expand or locate in NC – using your tax dollars of course.