Good Jobs First Blog
As part of the $2.2 trillion pandemic relief CARES Act enacted in spring 2020, states received $150 billion in general assistance via the Coronavirus Relief Fund. Within limits tied to the pandemic, the Relief Fund is meant to be flexible, and allowing states, U.S. territories, and tribal governments to direct money where it is most needed. So how is that money being spent? States have been inconsistent in reporting. One positive outlier: Alabama.
In a national study we issued in March 2021 on the harm of business incentives to school revenues, certain places stood out for their enormous tax abatements. A deeper analysis shows that the lost revenue falls disproportionately on low-income school districts, those with the most Black and Brown students, and those already suffering from regressive revenue systems.
My colleagues were digging into the state of economic development subsides in Ohio – as we here at Good Jobs First do – when they came across Cincinnati resident Michelle Dillingham. She's part of a group working hard to reign in tax abatements that divert significant pools of money from schools.
Transparency is a cornerstone of economic development, allowing the public to know where funds are being invested, what companies benefit from tax breaks, and if they do the good things corporate leaders and elected officials say they will. That’s why we were so cheered to see Franklin County, Ohio's new website that lifts the veil of secrecy that so often shrouds economic development subsidies.
$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.