What is the South Carolina Research Authority?
That question was asked at a recent meeting of the House Ways & Means Committee – and not a single lawmaker had an answer. Here are 10 things you should know about our state’s “Research Authority.”
- The South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) is a state-created and state-controlled technology and real estate company. It contracts with private companies and government agencies (Boeing, the Department of Defense, etc.) to supply technology-based services.
- Supposedly a “corporate” entity, SCRA pays no income, property, or sales taxes.
- As a contractor, SCRA competes directly against South Carolina-based firms.
- Combined, SCRA’s top five income-earners make more than $1 million annually. And that does not include bonuses.
- SCRA has received more than 1,500 acres in land from state and local governments.
- SCRA affiliate SC Launch, is funded through the Industry Partners Fund – donations to which receive a 100 percent credit against state taxes. The Fund siphons away up to $6 million from the state’s General Fund every year.
- SCRA permits virtually no transparency. Board meetings are largely spent in “executive session,” and the agency simply refuses to respond to Freedom of Information requests.
- Only 30 percent of SCRA’s work goes to firms located in South Carolina, and around 30 percent of its employees are located outside the state.
- SCRA has become involved in high-risk financing. Recently it loaned $275,000 to a bus manufacturer after one of the company’s major backers pleaded guilty on fraud charges.
- The new chairman of SCRA’s board is also a top executive at Boeing. Its last chairman resigned after repeated attempts to bring transparency to the agency proved impossible.
The South Carolina Policy Council is a 501(c)3 organization.
Nothing in the foregoing should be construed as an attempt to aid or hinder passage of any legislation.