One thing that the IRRRB isn’t is accountable to taxpayers. Early in the OLA’s report on the IRRRB is a section titled “Key Facts and Findings.” One of the first findings would be laughed at if practiced by the private sector. The third finding in the report said the “IRRRB did not adequately specify objectives—such as job growth—in many loan contracts we reviewed, and it collected insufficient evidence on how well loans met their objectives. Whether IRRRB provided loans to certain applicants that may not have needed them was unclear.”

Theoretically, the IRRRB is supposed to help strengthen and diversify the Iron Range’s economy. In reality, it’s operated more like a poorly run bank. What bank would loan a company money, then not follow up on whether the IRRRB loan helped the company expand?

The fourth finding states “IRRRB does not require most companies to report the number of jobs they create using IRRRB subsidies. For companies that do provide job data, IRRRB relies solely on their self-reported data.”

That’s the picture of sloppiness. The first thought that pops into my mind is this: why is the IRRRB willing to trust the company’s data without verifying the accuracy of the information? In the 1980s, President Reagan frequently used when negotiating with President Gorbachev. President Reagan’s saying was “Trust but verify.”

Apparently, the IRRRB believes in trust but don’t verify. This statement from IRRRB legislators is a CYA document:

“We will review the OLA’s findings and hope the IRRRB, and if necessary, the legislature can take action on the recommendations to ensure that the IRRRB is operating at the highest standards we expect of all our state agencies,” said Iron Range Legislators in a joint statement.

This is proof that the Iron Range’s legislators are totally out of touch with reality. No thinking person thinks that state agencies perform at a high standard. This statement is stunning:

“The success stories of the IRRRB are not necessarily the focus of today’s report, but as the OLA staff noted in today’s hearing, successes do exist, and in our opinion are the result of the IRRRB staff’s thoughtful work.”

I don’t doubt that some “successes do exist.” It’s that I doubt that they’re the rule, not the exception. More importantly, I doubt that they’ve diversified and strengthened the Iron Range’s economy. That’s the only metric that matters. Based on the Census Report’s statistics on median household income, the IRRRB has failed. For instance, the MHI in Hibbing, MN is $38,1112 and the poverty rate is 20.6%. That’s compared with an MHI of $60,828 statewide and a statewide poverty rate of 11.5%. That’s relatively respectable compared with Virginia, MN, where the MHI is $33,143 and the poverty rate is 26.5%.

That politicians would think that that’s acceptable after 75 years of the IRRRB attempting to diversify and strengthen the Iron Range’s economic is appalling. The IRRRB has failed. They deserve getting terminated.

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