It was just a couple of weeks ago that the McCrory administration was up in arms and demanding blood as a result of a new and critical audit of the North Carolina Rural Center. Indeed, judging by their statements and actions then and since, you’d have thought the Rural Center had been revealed to be some kind of organized crime outfit.
Of course, the whole thing was a bit of an overreaction. As we noted at the time:
“Troubling as some of the reports from the audit are, the plain truth is that the main accusation is simply that the Center has been doing what Governors and Departments of Commerce of both parties have been doing for decades: promising that amazing job growth and economic development would result from their investments of state funds and then sometimes failing to deliver (or keep good track of whether they delivered).
That’s not to say we shouldn’t reform the Center, but to simply ax it overnight as State Budget Director Art Pope has apparently decided to do smacks of something more than simple good budgeting practices — namely a partisan effort by Pope and his cronies to punish a group that they’ve always hated, mostly because of their perception that it has always been staffed predominately by Democrats and maintained close ties to Democratic politicians.”
Now flash forward to today and the release of a new audit — also from the State Auditor. This one, however, is not directed at a group hated by some for its historic ties to Democrats, but at the Department of Commerce itself.
The findings? As we had forecast, the Department is pretty clearly guilty of doing just what the Rural Center was alleged to have done; it puffed on its job creation statistics and did a lousy job of tracking the money it spent and the jobs it created. Put another way, the Job Development Investment Grant program (JDIG) is, to quote the Guv’s description of every other public program he doesn’t favor, “broken.”
Strangely however, unlike a few weeks ago when the audit was rushed out and trumpeted in time to impact the state budget debate, today’s audit has produced not so much as a peep from the Governor’s mansion.