On Wednesday, Kansas officials announced Panasonic will bring a battery plant to the state, and receive at least $829 million in public subsidies to offset the costs.
It was a process shrouded in secrecy: company officials negotiated for months behind closed doors and officials approved the massive subsidies without ever naming the company. Even lawmakers had to sign non-disclosure agreements to get details.
State Rep. John Carmichael, who voted against the bill, said previous projects with subsidies had failed to deliver. “Whether this is $1.3 billion or $150,000 it represents government picking winners and losers. Businesses who know how to polish brass at the department of commerce, no matter who the governor is, they receive taxpayer dollars,” he told The Star.
Good Jobs First Executive Director Greg LeRoy told The Star that although NDAs may be part of the process, there’s no excuse not to release details once an agreement is made.
“When you have a process like Kansas has just done, it’s highly undemocratic,” LeRoy said. “And you wonder why people are cynical about corporations having too much power over government policy. It’s exactly because of episodes like this.”
Read the full story at the Kansas City Star