Americans of every political persuasion consistently tell pollsters that corporations have too much power over public policy. That’s painfully true in economic development, where a corporate-dominated site selection system built up over 80 years turns our public officials into lapdogs with taxpayer checkbooks. So how do we dismantle the Tax Break-Industrial Complex and take back our economic democracy? It starts with disclosure.
One of the nation’s biggest corporate welfare programs – known as Chapter 313 for its place in the Texas tax code – is finally on its way to out. As of Dec. 31, 2022, the state can approve no more new deals. But now, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar is proposing to slash the amount of information his office publishes on the costs and benefits of the deals, which have largely benefited oil and gas companies.
Right now, three tech companies—#1 and #2 microchip makers Intel and Samsung and electric-truck start-up Rivian—are staging secret subsidy auctions, playing states against each other for new facilities.
$450 million to Centene Corp. $845 million to Apple. $8.1 BILLION to a tech park. It makes no sense: politicians just keep giving away the store, oblivious to economic realities. Why? Because they inhabit a rigged system that strips them of their ability to act as rational market participants.
Your state and local government’s files on economic development subsidies are just that—your files.