Thursday, February 18, 2010

February 18, 2010 State of Tennessee: Accountability for Selection of Companies Handling $120 Million of Insurance Premium Tax Credits

A lawsuit is being heard in Nashville over access to records related to TNInvestco, a program established by the General Assembly in 2009 as the Tennessee Small Business Investment Company Credit Act. The law established a base of $120 million of insurance premium tax credits that six investment firms certified by the state can sell to insurance companies who then invest the proceeds into Tennessee small businesses.

The law gives Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matt Kisber and Revenue Commissioner Farr Reagan sole discretion to choose the TNInvestco participants.

Larry Coleman, an investment company executive, wants to see how Kisber and Farr graded the 25 TNInvestco applicants. Coleman also wants to see the documents showing that the chosen investment companies raised the required capital by selling the tax credits. 

The state has filed dozens of records related to TNInvestco under seal, saying the documents constitute “tax information” or “tax administration information” and thus are exempt from Tennessee's Open Records law.

Taxing Tennessee--one of the best blogs in the state of Tennessee--has a post.

The Tennessee Center for Policy Research has a good explanation here.

When six companies are chosen singlehandedly by two people to handle a state program involving large sums of money, there should be some level of outside oversight and accountability for administration of the program in order to ensure that the companies have performed their duties as required by law and that the companies were selected on the basis of identifiable criteria, not on the basis of friendships, "donations," or political factors/favors.

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