Auditor continues criticisms of state incentive program

Published: Dec. 8, 2020 at 5:52 PM EST
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont Auditor Doug Hoffer continues to question whether the state is getting its money’s worth from the Vermont Employment Growth Incentive program.

The VEGI program awards tax breaks and grants to companies looking to expand or hire more workers in Vermont. A long-time critic of VEGI, Hoffer in his latest in a series of reports, says that it still lacks transparency. In addition to not being able to tell whether the business’s growth would have happened without the grant, he says the decision-making process happens behind closed doors to the public and lawmakers. The auditor is also concerned that many of the people who determine which businesses get grants are appointed by the governor and are not accountable to taxpayers.

He says VEGI and previous incentive programs have cost the state some $90-million dollars over the last 20 years. “That’s why people should care. They’re told that the program doesn’t cost anything when in fact it costs millions of dollars to accomplish nothing--only to what would have occurred for the most part, what would have occurred without the incentives,” Hoffer said.

State officials maintain the board makes decisions independently and award recipients are audited by the tax department before any taxpayer money is spent.

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