House and Senate bills that mandate evaluations of the return Mississippi gets on its tax credits, sales tax rebates and other economic development incentives have passed their respective bodies unanimously and now await conference committee action.

The idea is to gauge how well they create jobs and other economic benefits in exchange for the costs to the state.

Sen. David Blount’s SB2640 and Rep. Brad Mayor’s HB1365 would broaden Mississippi’s current practice of evaluating the effectiveness of individually selected projects that receive tax and other incentives.

SB 2640 and also HB1365 require the Mississippi Development Authority, the state’s economic development entity, to file an annual report on tax credits, loans and grants made for economic development projects. The executive director of the MDA must judge whether the statutory and programmatic goals of the tax benefit are being met, with obstacles to those goals identified, if possible, according to the bills.

The Senate bill, which has been referred to the House Ways & Means Committee, and House bill, which has been referred to the Senate’s Accountability, Efficiency and Transparency Committee, are designed to provide a systematic approach for evaluating whether incentives are fulfilling their intended purposes in a cost-effective manner. The bills specify that an analysis of economic development tax incentives and economic development programs enacted before July 1, 2014 must be completed by state economists at least once between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2018 and no less than once every three years thereafter.

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