Grading Places: What Do the Business Climate Rankings Really Tell Us?by Peter Fisher, with a preface by Greg LeRoy
Prominent studies that purport to measure and rank the states’ “business climates” are actually politicized grab-bags of data. They contradict each other wildly, have no predictive value, and should not be used to inform public policies. This is only the third such analysis of pseudo-social science “business climatology” in 27 years.
In this report commissioned by the United Auto Workers, Good Jobs First found that state and local officials in Mississippi have provided a lot more in subsidies to Nissan's assembly plant in Canton than has previously been reported.
The Job-Creation Shell Game: Ending the Wasteful Practice of Subsidizing Companies that Move Jobs from One State to Anotherby Greg LeRoy, Kasia Tarczynska, Leigh McIlvaine, Thomas Cafcas and Philip Mattera
This study describes how state and local governments waste billions of dollars each year on economic development subsidies given to companies for moving existing jobs from one state to another rather. It also looks at how the existence of relocation subsidies emboldens some large companies to demand large job blackmail subsidies to stay put. The report offers policy recommendations to address the problem.
Despite a building boom in the District of Columbia, D.C. residents remain underrepresented on area construction sites. Recently strengthened local hiring rules could reduce the gap, but much remains to be done to implement the new policy. Taxation without Employment: The Case for the District’s Strong Local Hiring Rules reviews the District’s experience with local hiring and explores why the recently strengthened requirements appear successful.
Selling Snake Oil to the States: The American Legislative Exchange Council's Flawed Prescriptions for Prosperityby Dr. Peter Fisher
Co-published with the Iowa Policy Project
An analysis of the 15-point ALEC-Laffer State Competitiveness Index finds that it does not predict a stronger state economy. Indeed, those states ALEC rates best have done the worst since ALEC first began issuing Rich States, Poor States annually.
In this article for the American Planning Association’s Planning magazine, Greg LeRoy joins other economic development experts in providing advice to the new Administration.
Economic Development Accountability Model Legislation
Based on our report-card studies of major subsidy programs, Good Jobs First has released new versions of our model bills for economic development accountability.
Breaking Down Silos Between Economic Development and Public Transportation: An Evaluation of Four States’ Modest Efforts In Making Job Subsidies Location-Efficientby Leigh McIlvaine and Greg LeRoy
Paying Taxes to the Boss: How a Growing Number of States Subsidize Companies with the Withholding Taxes of Workersby Philip Mattera, Kasia Tarczynska, Leigh McIlvaine, Thomas Cafcas and Greg LeRoy
States are increasingly using the withholding taxes of their workers to subsidize companies. This is justified in the name of job creation, but payments often go to firms that simply move existing jobs from one state to another, or to ones that threaten to move unless they get paid to stay put.
Full text of report
Appendix: subsidy program descriptions
Spreadsheet list of companies receiving subsidies linked to personal income tax revenue
Illinois loses over a billion dollars in potential tax revenues through four corporate tax loopholes—three involving how taxable corporate income is computed and another that allows retailers to “skim” from consumers’ sales tax payments.
Money-Back Guarantees for Taxpayers: Clawbacks and Other Enforcement Safeguards in State Economic Development Subsidy Programsby Philip Mattera, Thomas Cafcas, Leigh McIlvaine, Andrew Seifter and Kasia Tarczynska
This companion report to our Money for Something and Show Us the Subsidies studies evaulates state subsidy programs on their use of clawbacks and other penalties in enforcing job-creation, job quality and other performance standards.Press release. Executive summary. Full report with appendices. Full report without appendices. Appendices.
Money for Something: Job Creation and Job Quality Standards in State Economic Development Subsidy Programsby Philip Mattera, Thomas Cafcas, Leigh McIlvaine, Andrew Seifter and Kasia Tarczynska
This follow-up to our Show Us the Subsidies report evaluates state subsidy programs on their job-creation and other performance requirements as well as their job quality (wage and benefit) standards. Press Release. Full Report. Executive Summary. Appendices.
Based on two community-labor “boot camps,” this first-ever manual features inspirational stories of creative grassroots campaign victories. Plus links to strategic resources and a national directory of rider groups. Press release.
Many workers providing food and retail service at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) are paid so little that they and their families depend on Medicaid, the Maryland Children’s Health Program, and food stamps.
In this report produced jointly with Citizens for Tax Justice, we look at Verizon's federal and state tax dodging in general as well as its tax avoidance linked to state and local economic development subsidies.
Connecticut’s major economic development expenditures are high in cost, poorly monitored and may be undermining the public goods that actually constitute the state’s competitive advantage for jobs. press release
This study, prepared at the request of the Communications Workers of America, finds that 16 T-Mobile call centers in 11 states have received a total of $61 million in subsidies.
Paid to Sprawl: Subsidized Job Flight from Cleveland and Cincinnatiby Greg LeRoy and Leigh McIlvaine
Many Ohio companies were awarded lucrative property tax breaks as they moved facilities around within the Cleveland and Cincinnati metro areas. The subsidized relocations, affecting an estimated 14,500 workers, were overwhelmingly outward bound and by many measures fueled suburban sprawl and regional inequality. Full Report (11MB). Executive Summary. Press Release. Appendices: Cleveland Area Relocations. Cincinnati Area Relocations.
This report by Good Jobs New York analyzes transparency and accountability issues relating to New York City's Recovery Zone Facility Bond deals.
Slashing Subsidies, Bolstering Budgets: How States Can Save Money by Targeting Ineffective Economic Development Programsby Philip Mattera, Leigh McIlvaine, Thomas Cafcas and Greg LeRoy
Eliminating or reducing ineffective corporate subsidy programs can make a significant contribution to the efforts of state governments to address budget deficits. This report profiles ten poorly performing programs that would make good targets. Full report. Press release.
This synopsis of our previous reports on Walmart and research by others finds that the giant retailer is avoiding a total of about $400 million a year in state and local taxes.
This policy brief outlines the mix of tools the New York City Industrial Development Agency uses to subsidize economic development—including financial assistance, tax breaks, capital improvements, and the sale or lease of City‐owned land—and provides an estimate of the quality of jobs created or retained by three significant subsidized projects.
Governors in several states are pushing for the privatization of their economic development agencies. Public-Private Power Grab reviews the track record of states that have already taken this step and finds a history of performance problems, scandals and diminished accountability. Full report. Press release.
SHOW US THE SUBSIDIES: An Evaluation of State Government Online Disclosure of Economic Development Subsidiesby Philip Mattera, Thomas Cafcas, Leigh McIlvaine, Caitlin Lacy, Elizabeth Williams and Sarah Gutschow
Good Jobs First examines the subsidy disclosure practices of the 50 states (and D.C.). See which states do a good job of reporting on where the money is going and which keep taxpayers in the dark.
Report Overview (press release, appendices, executive summary)
Co-published by the Apollo Alliance, this report argues that the United States should commit to the development of a strong domestic clean-energy manufacturing sector, but in doing so it should avoid the risk of indirectly subsidizing the expansion of the sector in offshore low-wage havens. An analysis of the recipients of the federal government's Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credits shows that some are going to companies putting their primary emphasis on producing wind and solar generating equipment in countries such as China and India. Press release
Two unique analyses argue that states should shun the costly "economic war among the states" and grow their own high-tech jobs, by playing to their strengths in high-tech skills and by helping small and young businesses. Report Overview (press release, appendices, executive summary).
Good Jobs First re-evaluates the quality of disclosure on the websites set up by state governments to educate the public about the flow of funds from the federal stimulus act. We find that states such as Kentucky, Illinois and Minnesota have made dramatic improvements in their sites over the past six months. Report Overview (press release, state appendices, rankings summary).
Bonds and the Recovery Act: A Guide to Municipal Bonds Enabled Under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and Their Potential Impacts on New York Communitiesby Allison Lirish Dean and Bettina Damiani
Perhaps the most obscure aspect of the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is how it seeks to expand bond programs for public infrastructure and private economic development projects. A report released today by Good Jobs New York explains how the Recovery Act's new and expanded bond programs are facilitating economic recovery and where opportunities exist for public input.
An examination of the quality of disclosure on the official websites set up by state governments to educate the public about the flow of funds from the federal stimulus program. Report Overview (press release, state appendices).
As the federal government prepares to spend billions of dollars promoting the creation of green jobs as part of the huge economy recovery bill, this report warns that the jobs already being created in climate-friendly sectors of the economy do not always measure up in terms of wages and other terms of employment. The report was commissioned by Change to Win, the Sierra Club, and the Teamsters and Laborers unions.
Good Jobs New York documents local taxpayer subsidies to six firms, and their role in the Temporary Assets Relief Program or TARP - American International Group, Bank of America, Bear Stearns, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Merrill Lynch. It finds that the deals have been plagued by porous contracts that lack accountability, very poor public disclosure and job losses. The report offers common sense transparency solutions.
The advent of the Obama Administration presents an opportunity to reform federal economic development policy using innovations that have been pioneered at the state and local levels. Goods Jobs First provides a framework for that process in a this report released together with the AFL-CIO, Change to Win, Green for All, the National Employment Law Project, and the Partnership for Working Families. Press release
Skimming the Sales Tax: How Wal-Mart and Other Big Retailers (Legally) Keep A Cut of the Taxes We Pay on Everyday Purchasesby Philip Mattera with Leigh McIlvaine
In this report Good Jobs First reveals that retailers in 26 states are being allowed to "skim" more than $1 billion a year as compensation for collecting sales taxes on behalf of state and local governments. The biggest impact is felt in the 13 of those states that put no ceiling on the amount of compensation any given retail company can receive, thus giving a windfall to the likes of Wal-Mart. Press release
This article, published in Planning and Environmental Law, a journal of the American Planning Association, examines the nation's most controversial kind of economic development subsidy: tax increment financing. It includes a segment on the notorious TIF dispute currently taking place in New Mexico, where radical TIF deregulation threatens to undermine funding for state and local public services.
The State of State Disclosure: An Evaluation of Public Information About Economic Development Subsidies, Procurement Contracts and Lobbying Activitiesby Philip Mattera, Karla Walter, Julie Farb Blain and Michelle Lee
The Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First evaluates the quantity and quality of state government Web-based disclosure on economic development subsidies, procurement contracts and state lobbying activities. The study finds signs of improvement but concludes that states have a long way to go to fulfill the potential of the Internet in enhancing the public's right to know. Press release.
Rolling Back Property Tax Payments: How Wal-Mart Short-Changes Schools and other Public Services by Challenging Its Property Tax Assessmentsby Philip Mattera, Karla Walter, Julie Farb Blain and Colleen Ruddick
This first-ever investigation of Wal-Mart's local property tax records finds that the retail giant systematically seeks to minimize its payment of taxes that support public schools and other vital local government services. Online appendices with lists of stores and distribution centers examined.
Growing At Whose Expense? How Tax Avoidance by Shopping Mall Developer General Growth Properties Inc. Harms Communities and Burdens Other Taxpayersby Philip Mattera, Allison Lack and Karla Walter
Good Jobs First has found that General Growth Properties, the country's second largest owner and operator of shopping malls, has drained more than $200 million in revenues from local governments around the country. This is the main finding of a study of economic development subsidies received by GGP as well as the company's frequent challenges to its property tax assessments.
Insider Baseball: How Current and Former Public Officials Pitched a Community Shutout for the New York Yankeesby Bettina Damiani, Eileen Markey and Dan Steinberg
A deftly assembled lineup of former elected and appointed officials were employed by the Yankees organization to help push through a new baseball stadium even though the project won't benefit taxpayers or community members, claims Insider Baseball: How Current and Former Public Officials Pitched a Community Shutout for the New York Yankees, a new report by Good Jobs New York.
The world's largest financial services firm rarely makes a move without getting taxpayers to help foot the bill, a new report suggests. Citigroup uses threats of moving facilities and jobs elsewhere to repeatedly play state against state and locality against locality and attract millions of dollars in subsidies. Over the past 18 years this practice has won Citigroup over $226 million from New York and New Jersey governments, sometimes for moving jobs from one state to the other.
Sprawling by the Lake: How IDA-Granted Property Tax Exemptions Undermine Older Parts of the Buffalo/Niagara Metro Areaby Allison Lack
Buffalo - Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs) in the Buffalo/Niagara metro area are subsidizing job creation and investment, but not in areas that most need them. In Erie County, wealthy suburbs - especially those with their own IDAs' contain disproportionate shares of IDA-granted property tax exemptions, fueling regional sprawl. State law that regulates IDAs could be amended to ensure that IDA tax breaks don't undermine regional growth plans and support jobs and investment where they are most needed.
Chicago and Washington -- Local governments can write more effective contracts to improve the odds that companies receiving economic development incentives keep their promises to create good jobs and other community benefits - or pay taxpayers back.
Chicago -- Job subsidies granted by several Illinois state agencies have severely shortchanged Chicago and many parts of Cook County. Instead of helping to revitalize areas in the region hardest-hit by plant closings and job flight, the state's development deals have favored affluent, outlying areas with low unemployment and the strongest tax base. The resulting spatial mismatch between new job creation at the fringe and economic need at the core means many transit-dependent workers cannot benefit from regional growth.
Economic development incentives that were originally intended to help revitalize older areas are instead being used by outlying suburbs to pirate jobs and tax revenues from older cities in the Twin Cities metro area. Local officials need a cooperative structure to curtail zero-sum job piracy and focus instead on jointly promoting the region. And the state should use incentive deals as leverage to make more jobs transit-accessible and alleviate traffic congestion.
The unfair geographic distribution of economic development subsidies in Michigan favors well-off and thinly populated areas, delivering few benefits to the state as a whole and harming the state's economy. The state should get all the options on the table and begin coordinating its economic development programs with land use planning to make more efficient use of infrastructure, reduce tax base stress, and revitalize existing communities.
Good Jobs First, working with Interfaith Worker Justice and the Gulf Coast Commission on Reconstruction Equity, has issued a report on the Gulf Opportunity Zone bonds. This $14 billion program, created by Congress in December, is the one portion of the Hurricane Katrina aid package that gives the affected states--Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama--control over which companies will receive economic incentives for rebuilding. Our report provides a list of policy options that would allow the states to allocate the bonds in ways that promote efficiency, equity and accountability.
Transit-oriented development (TOD) is growing in popularity, due in part to its environmental benefits and innovative design. This report emphasizes another benefit, looking at the ways TOD can serve the needs of working families - particularly those with low and moderate income - by providing affordable housing and/or better access to jobs. Good Jobs First examines 25 TOD projects around the country and finds that projects with community benefits agreements, projects initiated by community development corporations (CDCs), and projects with exceptional private developers who intentionally sought to link people to job opportunities were more likely to address the needs of working families than most TOD projects.
Loot, Loot, Loot for the Home Team: How the Proposal to Subsidize a New Yankee Stadium Would Leave Residents and Taxpayers Behindby Bettina Damiani and Dan Steinberg
This report by Good Jobs New York reveals that taxpayers will pay a far higher price for a new Yankee Stadium than public officials and team executives have let on. Direct and indirect subsidies could exceed $480 million and a city-sponsored analysis suggests the new stadium would not generate enough revenue to cover its cost to taxpayers. The report also argues that subsidizing this stadium is a costly and inefficient strategy for creating jobs. Finally, the South Bronx community that would be most impacted by the project has been excluded from the planning process.
Subsidizing Low-Wage Jobs: An Analysis of the First Economic Development Deals Disclosed Under Illinois' New Accountability Lawby Jeff McCourt
Good Jobs First has just completed the first analysis of economic development deals disclosed under the new accountability law in Illinois. We found that many of the subsidies are going to companies that create jobs with pay levels below that needed for a family of four to pay basic expenses. A full assessment of the quality of the jobs is not possible, since the law does not require reporting on healthcare coverage.
Breaking the Codes: How State and Local Governments are Reforming Building Codes to Encourage Rehabilitation of Existing Structuresby Philip Mattera
Over the last decade, a quiet revolution has been taking place in the way that state and local governments across the country regulate commercial and residential construction. A new flexibility in the application of building codes is making possible the rehabilitation of structures that would otherwise have remained neglected or abandoned. The new wave of "rehab codes" is playing a significant role in the redevelopment of core urban areas--a process that is a vital counterbalance to unchecked suburban sprawl.
Good Jobs First and the Partnership for Working Families produced this updated version of their handbook on Community Benefits Agreements. These agreements include benefits such as living wages, local hiring, affordable housing, environmental improvements and funding for other community needs such as health clinics and youth centers. The report also includes a section on monitoring and enforcement of such agreements, as well as excerpts from key agreements.
They're in the Money; We're in the Dark: A Review of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation's Use of 9/11 Fundsby Stephanie Greenwood and Bettina Damiani
Federal monies for the post-9/11 reconstruction of Lower Manhattan are skewed towards big business and high-income neighborhoods, our investigation finds. Community priorities such as affordable housing, job creation, and local transportation are being ignored. Probing the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) -- the entity formed to distribute Federal cash aid -- we found an agency that lacks transparency and has given numerous grants to companies with ties to LMDC board members.
They're in the Money; We're in the Dark is the most recent in Good Jobs New York's "Reconstruction Watch" series that evaluates the allocation of Federal economic development resources in the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center. Previous reports and updates on allocations are available at www.goodjobsny.org
Your Tax Dollars at Work...Offshore: How Foreign Outsourcing Firms are Capturing State Government Contractsby Philip Mattera
This report by the Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First spotlights the growing degree to which state governments are awarding contracts to offshore outsourcing firms. It was produced for the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (WashTech), a local union of the Communications Workers of America that supports workers in the information technology sector. The report found that 18 offshore outsourcing firms--including several billion-dollar companies from India--are aggressively seeking state government contract work, primarily in information technology, in at least 30 states. The 18 firms have already captured at least $75 million in offshore state contracts and are seeking more, in part by hiring former government officials and by making state electoral campaign contributions. The study also looks at the large number of state food-stamp call centers that are operated offshore.
In this extensively researched study, we show that the giant retailer has received more than $1 billion in economic development subsidies from state and local governments across the country. Taxpayers have helped finance not only Wal-Mart stores, but also the company's huge network of distribution centers, more than 90 percent of which have gotten subsidies. The report also includes policy proposals, including a prohibition on subsidies to big-box retailers except in distressed areas that are underserved by retail outlets (and in those cases the recipient of the subsidy should be required to pay a living wage).
Note: Updated information on this subject can be found on our Wal-Mart Subsidy Watch website.
Corporate retention deals negotiated by New York City in the 1990s failed to create jobs, despite their multimillion-dollar price tags, our investigation finds. Analyzing contracts never disclosed before between large firms and NYC, the report highlights thirteen outrageous deals. Some actually allowed companies to lay off as many as 20 percent of their employees with no penalty. Finally, the report highlights problems with the public reporting on these deals, citing differences between internal city documents and a mandated annual report. Following the release of this report, the NYC Industrial Development Agency announced several improvements to its decision-making process and to the corporate retention program as a whole. For further details please visitn www.goodjobsny.org.
This report, for the first time we believe, begins to provide evidence that the job-related arguments against smart growth are dead wrong. Rather than diminishing the number of construction jobs, it turns out that smart growth is in many ways better than sprawl in creating employment for workers who build residential and commercial structures as well as transportation infrastructure.
The Policy Shift to Good Jobs: Cities, States and Counties Attaching Job Quality Standards to Development Subsidiesby Anna Purinton
A national survey finds that the number of economic development subsidies with job quality standards is continuing to rise sharply, and that standards are becoming an everyday tool for effectively targeting development subsidies to businesses that create high-quality jobs.
A review of events since Minnesota enacted its first-in-the-nation economic development accountability law in 1995 finds that the law is a major factor contributing to an increase in civic engagement in economic development issues.
A 50-state survey of economic development subsidy programs--such as loans, grants, and tax incentives -- reveals that not one single state effectively coordinates its economic development spending with public transportation planning.
Labor Leaders as Smart Growth Advocates: How Unions See Suburban Sprawl and Work for Smart Growth Solutionsby Greg LeRoy
This survey of union federation leaders -- 39 central labor council leaders and 11 state labor federation leaders -- reveals that all of them see serious problems in their regions being caused by suburban sprawl.
Straying from Good Intentions: How States are Weakening Enterprise Zone and Tax Increment Financing Programsby Alyssa Talanker and Kate Davis
This report examines legislative changes to two geographically targeted economic development programs: tax increment financing (TIF) and enterprise zones. It asks the question: Have laws governing these programs been weakened to permit the use of these programs in non-blighted or affluent areas? In virtually every state that has weakened its TIF or enterprise zone program, the answer is "Yes."
This report includes a 25-year historical narrative on the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, an analysis of the EDGE Tax Credit and Single Sales Factor subsidies, and five case studies on company-specific deals.
This report, released in conjunction with the National Education Association, examines the impact of property tax based subsidies on school revenues and the role that school boards have in the economic development process.
An analysis of 13 major economic development deals subsidized by the District of Columbia reveals a lack of safeguards to ensure the projects pay off for taxpayers, workers and communities.
This broad review reveals that North Dakotans are being asked to take it on faith that economic development subsidies are producing results.
An analysis of Baltimore's economic development efforts reveals a history of high costs, low benefits, and a lack of safeguards to ensure that taxpayer investments really pay off in family-wage jobs.
A comprehensive guide to researching state and local subsidies, economic development agencies, and companies.
The first study to catalog state and local economic development subsidies given to private prisons.
A hands-on tool to help smart growth activists reach out to union leaders based on working-families' self-interest.
A comprehensive summary and database of 122 state performance audits of economic development programs of the last decade.
How suburban sprawl reduces opportunity for low-skill workers and contributes to the geographic concentration of poverty, and how smart growth policies could reverse those trends.
A case study of a fringe-suburban industrial park that used tax increment financing to lure 29 companies, relocating 1,600 jobs mostly away from the urban core. Includes impact analyses based on race, poverty, welfare and transit access.
An analysis of 525 economic development deals made possible by Minnesota's first-in-the-nation subsidy disclosure law, which found almost half the subsidized companies paying 20% or more below-market wages.
No More Candy Store is the original compilation of grassroots remedies for corporate welfare abuse -- remedies like money-back guarantee "clawbacks," requirements that subsidized companies pay fair wages and benefits, rules for full disclosure, environmental protection and "anti-piracy" safeguards against "paying Peter to rob Paul" with taxpayers money. Verbatim passages from all of the nation's best state and local laws and contracts, ready-made for activists, legislators and anyone seeking to make economic development subsidies accountable.
Learn more about subsidy practices and controversial deals in this resource covering each of the 50 states and Washington, DC.
The first national compilation of company-specific information on economic development subsidy awards from around the country. Search the database here.