The Joint Committee on Legislative Oversight voted in the spring to have its Oversight Division undertake an investigation of the Department of Economic Development’s economic development policy. Director Mickey Wilson calls it “ironic” that the Committee chose that project before any questions were raised about the Department’s policies in relation to the failed Mamtek project to construct a sugar refining plant in Moberly.
The office looked at eight different programs:
- BUILD tax credits
- Business Facility tax credits
- Development tax credits
- Enhanced Enterprise Zone tax credits
- Enterprize Zone tax credits
- Film tax credits
- Quality Jobs tax credits
- Rebuilding Communities tax credits
What the office found, Wilson explains, was that documents were missing, not filed in the proper order or difficult to find, documents that were and were not pertinent mixed together in “huge” files, and a lack of information to verify compliance with the requirements of programs. He says the state he found those files in made it difficult to make sure that due diligence had been done on the projects they related to.
The investigation began before most Missourians had heard the name “Mamtek”, which Wilson emphasizes was not one of the projects he selected for the work. He says the findings raise questions however, about whether the documents were present “that we would have looked at if Mamtek had been in our sample.” He adds, “It doesn’t set a good track record on what to expect. I can’t really say one way or another whether there’s anything missing with Mamtek ’cause we didn’t look at those files. Just from the conversations I’ve seen in the paper, and I didn’t sit in on the hearings, but it appeared that what testimony and everything was given in those…in the Mamtek hearings, our report kinda verified some of that.”
Wilson says the Department’s staff was never able to provide the missing documents to his office, nor did it offer an explanation of why they were missing.
The Committee has directed Wilson to follow up on his report by contacting the Committees in the House in the Senate that deal with related issues. Senator Mike Parson (R-Bolivar) additionally recommends that language be worked on to enforce compliance with the conditions of tax credit agreements.
Wilson says he will meet in the coming days with some bill drafters to come up with some legislative language. He expects to have an early version ready for lawmakers to look at and evaluate by Christmas.
He says the report will be available online once the final version, accepted by the Committee, is drafted.
AUDIO: Listen to Mickey Wilson’s testimony before the Joint Committee on Legislative Research – 18 minutes