LINCOLN — A state legislative audit of Nebraska’s major business incentive programs concluded Monday that it was too difficult to determine if the incentives were meeting their goals.
A report from the Legislature’s Performance Audit Committee said the goals for the Nebraska Advantage Act and three other tax-break programs were “too vague” to allow for a useful cost-benefit analysis.
“The audit’s over arching finding is that the program goals expressed by the Legislature in the statutes and during legislative debate are too general to permit a meaningful evaluation of whether the programs are, in fact, accomplishing what the Legislature hoped they would accomplish,” the report stated.
The goals of the incentive programs were to increase jobs, and there were no limits set on how many tax breaks should be granted. Thus, the audit concluded, it was impossible to tell if the programs were doing “enough” to stimulate jobs and whether the costs were “appropriate.”
State Sen. John Harms of Scottsbluff, chairman of the audit panel, said he plans to work with the Legislature’s Revenue Committee to conduct an in-depth review of the programs to determine their value to the state.
“We know the businesses that used these incentives have invested millions of dollars in the state and have created new jobs,” Harms said in a press release. “What is not clear is how much of that activity may have occurred without the tax incentives.”
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