When the board of the state Teacher Retirement System voted last week to increase its investment in a northeast
For several generations elected officials at all levels of government have emphasized their support for policies that create jobs and promote economic development. Especially during tough economic periods, promises to create jobs are a staple of campaign rhetoric from candidates all the way across the spectrum from left to right.
In every legislative session, lawmakers consider bills to expand and improve the AEDC's industrial recruitment strategies. Those bills usually pass with little or no opposition, after routine discussion.
Another example of the widespread support for government's role in job creation occurred in a statewide election in 2004, when voters approved Amendment 82 to the Arkansas Constitution. It authorizes the state to issue bonds to finance "super projects" that create jobs and generates economic investments in
Amendment 82 was referred to voters by the legislature in the 2003 regular session, and it passed by a vote of 432,000 to 261,000.
Legislators were careful after they got what they wished for. Last year, when legislators had their first opportunity to implement Amendment 82, they did so only after lengthy consideration and vigorous debate.
The controversy centered around the impact on an existing steel mill in northeast
The existing steel mill has filed objections before regulatory agencies to the issuing of environmental permits to the new mill, so far without success. However, the permits are being appealed in the courts.
All the lingering questions came up again last week when the state Teacher Retirement System's board voted to invest an additional
The retirement system will own 20 percent of the mill when it is fully financed and operational. The head of the steel mill said he hoped to complete financing and begin construction in July.
Officials at the teacher retirement system believe the investment is sound, and that it complies with their fiduciary obligations to protect the system's assets and thus protect the future pension benefits of retired teachers.
State employee and teacher retirement systems across the country have long been making direct investments in private enterprise, both in
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