In a script for Gov. Bill Haslam to read on camera — prepared in 2011 by his Department of Economic and Community Development — a most unusual offer was drafted to try to entice retail giant Sears to relocate its corporate headquarters to Tennessee.
The Sears effort was dubbed “Project Neptune.”
“We’re so committed to making your new home in Tennessee that we are prepared to offer you one of the premiere buildings in Nashville’s thriving downtown,” the script read.
“Our state office building, the Tennessee Tower, can be an instantaneous and immediate home for Project Neptune’s corporate headquarters. This highly visible and historic building offers over 600,000 square feet of prime office space — located conveniently across from Legislative Plaza and a stone’s throw away from my office in the state Capitol.”
The Tennessee Tower is the iconic building that longtime Nashvillians may remember for its annual holiday messages.
“Are they going to give away the Capitol, too?” Cunningham asked.
“They’re going to offer them the Tennessee Tower, one of the major, probably the major, state office building — here you can have it. This is owned by the taxpayers by you and me. This is not owned by Bill Haslam.”
Let me point out: Ben Cunningham is the head of the Nashville Tea Party. When your giveaway to corporate America outrages both Tea Partiers and Democrats you know you’re doing it wrong.
Gov. Haslam’s “business expertise” was supposed to be his big selling point that qualified him to run state government. But you can’t run the government like a business, because government is not a business. And of course Pilot Oil, the family business, is facing its own scandals for engaging in illegal business practices. You’ve really gotta question Haslam’s supposed business acumen.
And then there’s this:
The Project Neptune proposal lays out all the possible incentives available to Sears if it brought 6,100 jobs, including a “super job tax credit,” “franchise tax savings,” a “standard job tax credit,” an “industrial machinery credit,” “sales and use tax credit,” a “headquarters relocation credit,” plus “training incentives” and “infrastructure incentives.”
Total potential value of the state package under a “high scenario” was $588.8 million dollars.
“This is $600 million — that is a very significant part of the annual budget of the state of Tennessee,” Cunningham noted.
We did the math, and that $588 million is almost $100,000 per job. The “low scenario” was $477.6 million, which is $78,000 per job.
Um …. wow. Okay, Tennessee: this is what happens when you elect a “businessman” to run the state. Silly little notions like “public servant” and “owned by the people” are weird concepts that our state CEO has never heard of. A state office building owned by the people of Tennessee? What communisticky-socialisticky notion is this?!
And I’m astonished that Haslam thought spending $100,000 per job was a good bargain. This is the same person who won’t take a free deal to expand Medicaid to the state’s citizens who need healthcare, calling it “a clunker.”
Haslam has one idea: take what belongs to the taxpayers and funnel it to corporations (for another example, see this). Spend on corporations, not people. If you think he stands for anything else, you’re severely wrong. He’d even give a corporation a downtown Nashville office tower owned by the people of Tennessee! This is his idea of a “smart business move.” That tells you everything you need to know about this dim bulb you’ve put in charge.