The University of South Carolina is boldly proclaiming that it will keep paying for S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell’s hydrogen fuel cell dreams – a whopping $40 million state investment (so far, at least) that has produced absolutely squat in the way of jobs and capital investment.
Sure, the taxpayer-funded flunkies at fuel cell central – at Speaker Harrell’s behest – spit out some bogus “job creation” numbers recently to justify the ongoing annual taxpayer investment, but the fact is that both the “hydrogen economy of the future” and its supporting Innovista campus are unmitigated taxpayer disasters.
“The Speaker’s office asked for some number on the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Cluster — jobs and investment — over the past five years,” reads a recent email from SC Hydrogen Fuel Cell Alliance Director Shannon Baxter-Clemmons. “All of the SCHFCA Board organizations, plus some others, were contacted for those numbers.”
Really? Of course the Speaker “asked for some numbers.”
Harrell has staked his political career on this government-driven economic development nonsense, and the fact that the administration of Barack Obama (which spends money on friggin’ everything) no longer views hydrogen fuel cells as a viable technology has Harrell scrambling to cover his bets … or rather, the bets he made with our money.
The bogusness of Harrell’s spin was laid bare in a masterful position paper published earlier this month by Kevin Dietrich over at the S.C. Policy Council.
One by one, Dietrich refutes Harrell’s claims of what this public-private partnership has actually produced.
For example, Harrell says this massive investment (which includes tens of millions in additional funding from both federal and local government sources) has created 229 jobs.
Wait, 229 jobs? That’s it? That’s certainly a far cry from the “thousands of high-paying jobs” we were promised as recently as two years ago.
Of course, even this embarrassingly-low figure only works if you count lobbyists, PR staff and professors, Dietrich says – all of whom are paid for with taxpayer salaries.
There’s also the claim that the state’s investment is producing a “10-to-1” return, which is a joke. In fact, of the $115 million in “non-state” investment Harrell boasts of, only $5 million of it comes from “private” money.
The rest comes from the feds, local governments and the University.
In spite of this abject failure, Harrell – along with USC President Harris Pastides and Columbia S.C. Mayor Bob Coble – is still looking to funnel as much taxpayer money as possible into Innovista, which right now consists of a bunch of mostly-empty bureaucratic office buildings.
We’ll have an update on these hydro-scammers latest creative accounting soon, so stay tuned …