As a general rule, transparency in government is a good thing — and that includes public disclosure of how the state's economic development dollars are being spent.
That's especially true when governors such as Connecticut's Dannel P. Malloy are aggressive in offering incentives. We support Mr. Malloy's efforts such as Next Five to promote growth and create jobs. But all efforts should be monitored — to see what works and what doesn't — and open to the public.
This is an issue that's been fought over for decades. Last year, majority Democrats tried and failed to block public access to tax breaks and other state benefits to private businesses.
This year's skirmish involves a bill supported by state Comptroller Kevin Lembo that would establish, among other things, a publicly accessible online database for all state tax credits and economic assistance programs.
Mr. Lembo, a champion of transparency, believes taxpayers have a right to know who gets how much assistance, its purpose, its promises in terms of jobs and economic impact and the actual results. He's right. "In this environment, we must make every effort to ensure that the dollars we spend, or forego, in an effort to generate greater economic output are well spent," the comptroller said in written testimony to the legislature's Finance Committee.
Taxpayers should understand, of course, that state economic development offices need to take risks if they are to land job-creating enterprises. There are bound to be failures.
This is not a game any governor wants to play in these tough economic times — giving companies tax breaks, state loans and grants to lure new businesses and keep existing ones from leaving. But it's the game being played by other states, and Connecticut has to be in it, for the sake of jobs.
Transparency ought to cut down on the chances of patently bad bets.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun