Turzai Calls for Termination of Opportunity Grant Program, Says State Funds Could be Better Utilized
11/5/2007
Citing lack of accountability and government oversight, Rep. Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) today called for an elimination of the state’s $49 million Opportunity Grant Program.
 
“In order to really help Pennsylvania employers, we need to eliminate these Opportunity Grants and focus on business tax cuts,” Turzai said. “These Opportunity Grants have become nothing more than photo-op disbursements, rather than real job-creation opportunities.”
 
The Office of the Auditor General released its audit of the Opportunity Grant Program five days ago. A few days before the Auditor General released its report, the Associated Press reported findings similar to those of the auditor general, with respect to the Opportunity Grant Program. According to the reports, there is little accountability in regards to how grants are distributed. Millions of dollars went to companies that did not meet its job creation goals, while many just shut their doors and left the state without re-paying their commitments to the state.
 
According to the auditor general’s audit report, about 60 percent of the 360 companies that received more than $117 million in grants between 2000 and 2003 did not meet their job promises. An independent Associated Press audit looking at 2003-04 pegged the failure rate at 55 percent at a public cost of $44 million. The Department of Community and Economic Development awarded $215 million in opportunity grants to 724 businesses statewide during the five-year audit period. From 2000 to 2005, state officials waived more than $49 million in repayments they could have pursued against 187 companies that had received grants dating to 1996, when the program began. They collected only $3.4 million.
 
“It is unacceptable to not have specific guidelines and criteria when distributing the taxpayers’ hard-earned money,” Turzai added. “I feel it is necessary and in the best interest of the Commonwealth to eliminate this program. These budget funds would be far better used to help all Pennsylvania job-creators, not just those offering photo ops – and that is accomplished by cutting our job-crushing taxes.”
 
Turzai said legislation will be introduced in the coming weeks which will eliminate the discretionary Opportunity Grant Program and divert the funds towards proven job-creation opportunities – tax cuts.
 
According to the Department of Labor and Industry’s Center for Workforce Information and Analysis, since Gov. Rendell has taken office Pennsylvania has lost a total of almost 70,000 good-paying manufacturing jobs. 
 
“As long as Pennsylvania’s business taxes remain among the highest in the nation, we will continue to lose family-sustaining jobs,” Turzai said.
 
Rep. Mike Turzai
28th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

(412) 369-2230
www.RepTurzai.com
Contact: Tricia Graham
House Republican Public Relations
(717) 260-6296
www.pahousegop.com