Abating Our Future:
How Students Pay for Corporate Tax Breaks
by Christine Wen, Katie Furtado and Greg LeRoy
Economic development tax abatements given to corporations cost public school districts $2.37 billion in foregone revenue in fiscal year 2019. That’s an increase of 13 percent – a $273 million jump – from just two years earlier and came during the pre-pandemic period of economic prosperity, a new report details.
The losses were widespread: 97 school districts lost more than $5 million each, and 149 districts lost more than $1,000 per student. That left less money for students, who suffered poorer schools, and caused working families to pay higher local and state taxes.
Read our December 2018 report, "The New Math on School Finance: Adding Up the First-Ever Disclosure of Corporate Tax Abatements’ Cost to Public Education."
In that inaugural study, Good Jobs First revealed public schools across the country lost at least $1.8 billion last year as a result of economic development tax incentives granted to corporations. School districts in ten states, led by South Carolina, New York and Louisiana, collectively lost $1.6 billion. If this money were instead reinvested in hiring new teachers and reducing class size, these ten states alone could add more than 28,000 teachers.
Learn more about the accounting rule here.