CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette defended the state's use of tax credits to attract businesses to the state before lawmakers Wednesday.
Speaking to a joint meeting of the Legislature's Joint Commission on Economic Development and Joint Committee on Finance, Burdette criticized a recent New York Times report for creating a "woefully inaccurate picture" of how the state uses its business tax incentives.
Burdette said he has spoken with state tax officials about the data used in the Times' report. While the data was pulled from a variety of reports published over the years, Burdette said it did not accurately reflect how the state uses its tax programs.
"The article was poorly researched, the comparisons poorly made," Burdette said. Lawmakers have been researching ways to boost transparency surrounding the state's business tax credit programs during committee meetings this year.
Some have complained state officials don't provide enough details regarding the number of businesses using particular incentives, how many jobs are created and how much tax revenue the state loses through the programs' use.
House Finance Chairman Harry Keith White, D-Mingo, said lawmakers would like to develop some type of evaluation system to figure the cost of incentive programs and whether the results are worth keeping them on the books.
"We need to know whether there are more effective incentives to promote job growth here," White said.
"Ultimately, I would like to see a permanent mechanism put in place to monitor these incentives and make recommendations for changes as needed to keep West Virginia's economy moving forward," he said.
Burdette said the state
Development Office, Workforce West Virginia and the state Tax Department can offer three types of business assistance: financial assistance through loans and bond sales; tax incentives, including credits and sales tax exemptions; and workforce recruiting and training assistance.
He said all of these programs are designed to be results-driven.
"Every one of them are performance based — if you don't perform, you don't apply," Burdette said.