The state House is slated to give final approval today to an incentives bill that supporters say will help North Carolina attract larger employers and thousands of new jobs.
The NC Competes Act (House Bill 117) would place a cap on state incentive awards at $20 million a year. The one exception would be for “high-yield projects” involving at least 1,750 jobs, in which case the cap could rise as high as $35 million.
Lawmakers point to the recent loss of Volvo and Mercedes to other states as the need for enhancing the Job Development Investment Grant fund.
Mecklenburg County Rep. Charles Jeter urged his colleagues to support the legislation Tuesday:
“We can put our heads in the sand and act like it doesn’t matter, or we can do something to put North Carolinians who want to work, back to work.”
But fellow Republican Rep. John Blust said incentives at this level would not sway a major industry. Blust suggested this money simply allowed legislators to take credit for a jobs announcement that would likely happen with or without JDIG money:
“What this is for is to allow the political class to take credit in the eyes of the public for decisions made in the private sector.”
Seventeen Republicans and six Democrats joined Blust in voting against the NC Competes Act. In the end the measure passed 84-24.
Back in January Gov. Pat McCrory told the NC Chamber that the incentives bill needed to be passed within the first two weeks of the session. It now appears his top priority will gain approval in the last two weeks of this legislative session.
To hear a portion of Tuesday’s heated debate, click below: