It’s like shooting fish in a barrel for Colorado government auditors these days. We’ve gotten used to Denver Auditor Tim O’Brien (a real live accountant and not some political hack) ripping the lid off malfeasance through his operational and financial audits. Today it’s the Colorado Legislative Audit Committee stepping up to the plate.
In 2009, a state law established a slush fund of tax dollars for opaque “economic development” projects – big ticket items that allegedly would generate big bucks in sales tax dollars from out of state visitors. Projects were identified in tourism meccas such as Pueblo and Weld County – what could go wrong?
Of course with many government boondoggles, the follow through and accountability was simply not there. The economic development spenders could not justify projects in terms of whether they fit the criteria established in the statute. Sales tax revenue was massively over-estimated, and the third party analysts who were hired to opine on these matters were ignored. The Colorado Economic Development Commission even approved a project in Pueblo that the state economic director recommended against.
These economic development jobs are the height of government waste. Bloated budget allow for bureaucrats to travel across the country to cities and conferences, talking, planning, thinking, but never doing. It’s time for the legislature to take a close look at what we are spending on these activities, and look more to industry to do its own economic development.