Rendell’s Pinocchio Moment on WAMs

Rendell PinocchioDuring yesterday’s press conference, Roxbury News reported Gov. Rendell saying, “Opportunity Grants are not WAMS.” Really?

Forget the numerous failures of Opportunity Grant recipients, like the $750,000 awarded to Siemens Energy for a never-constructed fuel cell manufacturing plant.

Forget that the 2007 Auditor General’s report examined $215 million in grants expected to create 300,000 jobs, but found only 170,000 were created — less than 60% of the goal.

And forget that the audit also revealed a poor track record of assessing and collecting fines — $49 million in fees for failure to meet requirements were waived.

Because the real purpose of the Opportunity Grant program is press release economics. Governor Rendell may prefer “discretionary grants” or “corporate welfare” to “WAMs,” but they’re all examples of elected officials using other people’s money to take credit for “creating jobs,” even if they never materialize.

Denying that the Opportunity Grants are WAMs won’t change the more important fact — they are a waste of taxpayer dollars.