State lawmakers question Cargill incentives package

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TOPEKA — Some Kansas lawmakers have expressed discomfort with the Commerce Department’s operations and authority to reward companies without proving the value of taxpayer investments.

The department crafted an economic incentives package in 2016 to keep a food products supplier’s headquarters in Wichita. Cargill is receiving funding from the package to retain and grow jobs while starting and ending with the same employee total.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that some lawmakers say they were unaware of those terms. Republican Sen. Molly Baumgardner says the Cargill agreement is the kind that would warrant a legislative audit.

The Commerce Department describes fluctuating job figures as part of the natural rhythm of business operations. The department also calls the deal necessary for a company that contemplated moving out of Kansas.

Democratic Rep. John Carmichael calls the department “absolutely ineffective.”

The Wichita Eagle reported in July 2017 Wichita City Council members approved $20 million in incentives, including $13.6 million in property tax breaks over the next 10 years.

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