March 15, 2012

(Denver) – A key element of House Democrats’ 2012 jobs package advanced today when Rep. Mark Ferrandino’s enterprise zone reform bill passed the House today on a 65-0 vote.

HB12-1241 would create a task force to recommend changes to the state’s enterprise zone system, which has become bloated and inefficient.

Enterprise zones are the state’s largest economic development program, handing out more than $88 million in tax credits in 2009, the last year for which final figures are available. Originally designed to encourage development in depressed areas, they now cover 70 percent of the state, and more than half of the money is going to big oil and gas companies that are drilling in the state not because they get a tax break, but because there’s oil and gas here.

A Denver Post study last year calculated that enterprise zones cost the taxpayers $133,000 per job created.

Rep. Ferrandino (D-Denver), the House Democratic leader, said the idea was to make sure enterprise zones meet their job creation objectives and look at ways to improve the program to maximize job creation.

“We have to make sure that when we use our limited economic development dollars, we get the biggest return on our investment,” Rep. Ferrandino said.

The bill is part of a package of House Democratic proposals to maximize economic development programs, connect Coloradans to good jobs and accelerate the state’s economy.

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