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Williams’ Government Transparency Bill Sails to Senate

Das Williams: Assemblyman Das Williams

A bill that would require local agencies to provide more transparency when approving economic development subsidies sailed through the state Assembly and is now headed to the Senate for a vote.

Authored by Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, AB 562 would force local governments to explain the costs and benefits before providing any tax subsidy above $100,000 to a private business.

“This is the public’s money and the public should know exactly where that money is going,” said Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara. “The public, the taxpayers, deserve more sunshine and accountability in government.”

Among the many requirements, the bill would require local agencies to clearly explain the public purpose of the tax subsidy, the projected tax revenue to the local agency for the subsidy and the estimated number of jobs – broken down by full, part-time and temporary positions.

The bill also calls for biennial reports which will provide the public with the actual effect of subsidies, along with a final report at the completion of a subsidy.

Local governments routinely give out billions of dollars in tax incentives to corporations, with the hope of that subsidy infusing economic vitality into the community. Governments are often so excited to woo a big corporation to the area that they often approve subsidies without a lot of accountability and monitoring of the money.

“I am a strong believer in public-private partnerships,” Williams said. “Let’s make sure that when we make these mega-deals that the taxpayers win along with the private businesses.”

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