Subsidizing the Missouri State Fair
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
A regular Show-Me Daily reader alerts me to an article in the Kansas City Star reporting that the Missouri Development Finance Board recently issued $343,000 in tax credits toward a new livestock pavilion at the Missouri State Fair.
While representing the Show-Me Institute at the Missouri State Fair last August, I noticed that the state government already has a large footprint on the fairgrounds. Most notably, there is the Missouri Department of Transportation’s expansive Highway Gardens, which I have discussed previously on this blog. There were many private companies represented at the state fair (e.g., farm equipment manufacturers, RV and trailers, etc.), but they were located on a section of the fairgrounds that was comparatively compact.
To what extent is the state government crowding out private investment at the state fair? Has the state government investigated whether a private company would be willing to sponsor the livestock pavilion or the highway gardens?
Additionally, this presents a possible opportunity for tax credit stacking. Will the livestock pavilion feature cows that received qualified beef tax credits? As Thomas Duda has explained in the context of subsidizing housing developments, tax stacking contributes to the crowding out of private investment.
Furthermore, this fact from the article thoroughly disappoints me:
The board waived its normal two-presentation requirement for applicants in order to approve the State Fair project under its 2010 allotment of tax credits […].
If the government doesn’t go through its review process, what’s the point of having one at all? What attributes make a project worthy of skipping review? Are these attributes completely arbitrary and subject to political pressure?