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Rep. Forestal questions money spent on IEDC report

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For immediate release:
Oct. 23, 2013

 

STATEHOUSE - State Rep. Dan Forestal (D-Indianapolis) said today that $85,000 in state tax dollars have been thrown away on a study of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC).

The study, conducted by Ball State University’s Center for Business and Economic Research and headed by Michael Hicks, only reviewed annual reports without doing an actual audit to determine how many jobs were created in Indiana through the IEDC and tax incentives Forestal said.

“Michael Hicks is an economist with a long history as an apologist for failed conservative philosophies,” said Forestal, who is also a member of the Interim Study Committee on Economic Development. “Hicks appears to have been hired to further the IEDC’s public relations efforts, instead of doing a legitimate study. The IEDC needs to commission an independent study that actually runs an audit to determine exactly what the IEDC has been doing.

"Now I hear the IEDC is throwing away another $200,000 with Hicks for two more studies that will also not have independent audits,” added Forestal. “With unemployment as high as it is in Indiana and wage rates dramatically lagging behind the rest of the nation, we owe it to Hoosier taxpayers to conduct an independent and effective audit. Using taxpayer dollars to conduct a one-sided study is not a good use of our resources.”

Forestal said Indiana’s unemployment rate has been stubbornly stuck above 8 percent, which means it has been above the national average for 17 straight months.

In addition, Forestal also pointed out that Indiana’s per capita income is only $24,497, compared to $27,915 nationally. That amounts to a median household income of $48,393 in Indiana, while the national level is at $52,762.

The low wage rates mean that 71 percent of jobs are not economically self-sufficient and that 24 percent of Hoosiers are in occupations that pay wages below the poverty level.

When asked about the lack of good-paying jobs being created in Indiana, Forestal said Hicks told study committee members that geography was the most significant factor.

“I think that is a poor excuse,” said Forestal. “If one looks at our neighboring states of Illinois, Michigan and Ohio, one will find higher median hourly wages than one will find in Indiana. We need to find out why our state has not been creating good-paying jobs for the past decade. The only way to make an honest determination is to have an independent organization run a study using legitimate audits. The IEDC needs to spend the money earmarked for Hicks on this type of independent study.”

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