HARRISBURG – The commonwealth and its taxpayers are one step closer to being able to evaluate the effectiveness of a more-than $500 million state tax program targeting economic development investments in Allentown after the state Senate today unanimously approved a measure introduced by Sen. Jarrett Coleman (R-16).
“Pennsylvania taxpayers deserve to know if the half-billion dollars of their tax money has been wisely used through this program,” Coleman said. “Transparency and accountability are two essential components when evaluating government programs.”
Coleman introduced Senate Resolution 110 calling for the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a performance audit of the Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ) and Allentown NIZ Development Authority programs administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.
Pennsylvania’s NIZ program was first established by law in 2009. State and local taxes collected within the NIZ are used to repay debt service and bonds issued by the Allentown NIZ Development Authority to fund various economic development projects within the zone, including the PPL Center arena.
More than $500 million has been invested in Allentown’s NIZ during the past decade.
While hundreds of millions of dollars have passed through the program, Pennsylvanins have no way of knowing if the NIZ has been an effective means of generating economic activity.
Coleman’s resolution would ensure the program undergoes a thorough review to determine if it is operating in line with promises made when the program was initiated.
When the NIZ program first was established, estimates suggested it would have no negative impact on tax revenues. That conclusion assumed the NIZ would attract new economic development projects and businesses. The NIZ instead has in some cases resulted in businesses relocating from one municipality to another with no discernible net gain to the local economy.
“After receiving $500 million in subsidies, this performance audit should determine if the program has been effective and if it’s providing a benefit to the commonwealth’s residents,” Coleman said.
Residents who want to learn more about Coleman can visit his website at www.SenatorColeman.com, follow him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/SenatorJarrettColeman and sign up for email newsletters at www.SenatorColeman.com/eNewsletters.
CONTACT: Leo Knepper