Governor McCrory and Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker say they have a plan to reduce unemployment in North Carolina by attracting more private businesses. Their plan would create a public-private partnership that would take over large chunks of the Commerce Department’s work, such as “guiding tourism, travel and international trade development, as well as taking over responsibilities from regional economic development commissions.”
Other states have tried similar public-private partnerships (PPPs) – with bad results. As a report from Good Jobs First explains:
Most of the seven states that currently make use of economic development PPPs have experienced a variety of performance problems. These include the following:
- Misuse of taxpayer funds
- Excessive executive bonuses
- Questionable claims by the PPP about its effectiveness
- Resistance to accountability
The details of the governor’s privatization plan are still being worked out. The challenge will be to create a system that is highly accountable to make sure taxpayer dollars are used to benefit the people of North Carolina and not the private partnership’s executives, and that the corporations wooed with public money provide quality jobs with good benefits.
There’s no question that North Carolina needs to attract more jobs. The NC Budget & Tax Center reports that North Carolina’s jobs deficit – the number of jobs needed to make up for those lost during the Great Recession, provide jobs for young people who’ve just entered the workforce, and get us back to pre-recession employment – is about 518,000. That’s a lot of jobs.
And what’s most worrisome is that North Carolina keeps adding people to the unemployment rolls. Cabarrus County schools just laid off 129 full-time teacher assistants because of budget cuts. Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen public-sector job losses wipe out the state’s private-sector job gains. And considering the budget proposals currently under consideration in Raleigh, we’ll likely see many thousands more public employees lose their jobs over the next year.
And for every unemployed public worker, that will be another job Governor McCrory and Secretary Decker will be responsible for br