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Report: Few States Effectively Track Tax Breaks

In 2009, Oregon lawmakers established a law ending most tax breaks after six years, giving lawmakers a chance to regularly reevaluate them. In Washington state, citizen input, analysis from the state's legislative auditor and annual legislative hearings are part of the process of regular evaluation. And in Arizona, a legislative committee is required to review all incentives every five years.

And Iowa's Legislature created a committee last year to review every incentive every five years, in part in response to a large number of tax breaks given to ethanol and biodiesel companies as those industries grew.

"We experienced a several-year period there where there was a lot of build up," Iowa Economic Development Authority spokeswoman Tina Hoffman said. "It just became apparent as you make those awards on the front end, you don't know what the full outlay is going to be (without some evaluation)."

But some states criticized in the report dispute Pew's findings.

Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield said his state last year agreed to provide $91.48 million in tax breaks and other corporate incentives, including $20 million to a Chinese company planning to build a copper tubing plant.

Canfield said his agency can't afford to review the job-creation figures and wage targets called for in every tax-break deal it makes, it does review a number of them and cut the size of tax breaks it provides when warranted.

___

Follow David Mercer on Twitter: http://twitter.com/DavidMercerAP

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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