A state senator has questioned fellow Republican Governor Bill Haslam's proposal to earmark $30 million for a secret economic development project in Tennessee.
State Finance Commissioner Larry Martin on Tuesday declined to elaborate on the development prospect other than to describe it as an "exciting project."
Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro cited state money spent on problematic economic development deals including a shuttered polysilicon plant in Clarksville, a West Tennessee solar farm that still isn't operational, and a facility to study converting switchgrass to fuel that has been moved to Iowa.
Ketron said he was uncomfortable voting for the new project on the basis of state officials saying, "Trust me, it's going to be good."
The Assistant Commissioner for Communications and Marketing, Clint Brewer released sent NewsChannel 5 the following statement:
"This administration has used capital project grants in previous budgets to allow the state to compete for high-profile economic development projects. In the past, we have used capital project grants to successfully recruit projects by Beretta, Hankook Tire, Nissan, Volkswagen and Eastman among others. Our capital project grants have employed clawback provisions since the department implemented them in 2012. However, we are always happy to answer questions from members of the legislature about our efforts to recruit business to the state."
The state routinely makes grants to companies that build new facilities or expand in Tennessee.