Weekly column: Governor’s Office of Economic Development welcomes new workers to take your job

With $10 million in tax money burning a hole their pocket, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) awarded funds to several companies planning to move to Nevada and set up shop and, well, compete against those who paid those taxes.

As recounted in this week’s newspaper column, available online at The Ely Times and the Elko Daily Free Press, the money comes from Nevada’s $10 million Catalyst Fund.

The largest handout went to SolarCity. The company installs solar panels at homes, businesses and government agencies. It is getting $1.2 million and says it plans “to initially create more than 100 jobs” by opening an office in Las Vegas.

One wonders whether the employees of Bombard Electric in Las Vegas or Silver State Renewables of Elko or Sierra Solar of Reno or Bristlecone Energy of Ely or the two dozen other companies in Nevada that do the same work appreciate seeing their tax money funneled to a competitor, especially one under investigation.

SolarCity workers install residential rooftop solar panels. (Photo by SolarCity

SolarCity is being investigated by the Treasury Department for possible fraud in obtaining $66 million in grants from the Department of Energy for installing solar panels.

Company founder Elon Musk is a big contributor to Democratic campaigns in general and to President Obama and Sen. Harry Reid in particular. According to one news account, GOED board member Secretary of State Ross Miller fawned, “You had me at Elon Musk,” while voting to award the handout.

Musk’s electronic car company Tesla received a federal loan guarantee for $465 million, but has lost or written off more than $1 billion. Musk’s SpaceX gets $1 billion in NASA funding.

“Musk symbolizes the Obama entrepreneur — someone who relies on government to make their riches as opposed to the marketplace,” the Western Center for Journalism observed. Add Nevada riches to the list.

Yes, here are your tax dollars in action, helping someone else try to take your job.

Read the entire column at the Ely or Elko website.

Local businesses ‘welcome’ new competitors attracted with a big chunk of their tax money during a recession, right?

“Southern Nevada’s economy is welcoming some new businesses,” says the lede on the banner story atop the Business section of today’s Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The story reports that the Governor’s Office of Economic Development approved funding and/or tax incentives for six companies planning to move to Las Vegas and set up shop. The bribe money to attract these businesses comes from Nevada’s $10 million Catalyst Fund, which the attorney general says is constitutional, though the Nevada Constitution states:

Sec: 9.  Gifts or loans of public money to certain corporations prohibited. The State shall not donate or loan money, or its credit, subscribe to or be, interested in the Stock of any company, association, or corporation, except corporations formed for educational or charitable purposes.

According to its website the Governor’s Office of Economic Development “promotes a robust, diversified and prosperous economy in Nevada, stimulating business expansion and retention, encouraging entrepreneurial enterprise, attracting new business and facilitating community development.”

The news story, with that oh-so-welcoming opening paragraph, reports, “The biggest chunk of change — as much as $1.2 million — would go to SolarCity, a California-based company that provides renewable energy to homeowners, businesses and government agencies. The funding would help SolarCity open a location here.”

From SolarCity website

Let’s just look at this one company for a minute.

I’m sure the two dozen or so companies in Las Vegas that already are in the business of installing solar panels at homes, businesses and government agencies and have been paying taxes for decades to the state and local governments are sincerely welcoming the competitor from California with the $1.2 million grubstake that they helped pay for. You’d think fleeing California would be incentive enough.

I bet all the employees of, say, Bombard Electric — which has been in Las Vegas since 1982, paying taxes and business license fees and complying with all the regulations and restrictions heaped on contractors of every stripe here — welcome SolarCity and the “hundreds of jobs” it will create to compete for contracts to install solar panels.

Maybe Bombard and Sibo and Suntrek and Heliocol West and Solar Unlimited and Green Power Systems should all apply to the governor for a grubstake, too. But they are already here, doing business and paying taxes and competing against each other, what’s the point in helping those suckers.

Maybe the governor would hand me $1.2 million to start up a newspaper to compete with the Review-Journal. I’m sure the paper would be welcoming and appreciative of the economic stimulation their taxes will be generating for Southern Nevada’s economy.

Isn’t it nice that your governor and lawmakers are picking winners and losers for us. I’m sure the bankers and food distributors and metal fabricators all appreciate the new competition being brought to town with their tax money, as the R-J story reports.

One side note, lest the local government agencies are salivating over all the taxes that will be generated by all those solar panel installations, state law exempts solar panels from sales and property taxes.

Solar panels in my backyard, installed by Bombard Electric.

Solar panels in my backyard, installed by Bombard Electric.