Good Jobs First Blog
The idea behind the Opportunity Zones is to persuade individuals and corporations to invest their capital gains in projects in poor neighborhoods. In return, those investors receive lucrative federal tax breaks. No matter what one might think about this underlying idea of OZs, the execution and administration of the program has fallen short. Their pervasive lack of transparency and accountability is largely to blame.
Going on 23 years, Good Jobs First has pushed nonstop to lift the veil of secrecy that surrounds economic development “incentives”: think tax breaks of all kinds, low-cost land, cash grants, expedited planning processes, low-interest municipal bonds. And since 2015, it’s been painstakingly compiling every fine and penalty assessed against corporations, to draw attention to repeated workplace misconduct that harms workers and imperils our planet.
Jane Vancil is CEO and founder of IncentiLock LLC, an automated tool that tracks how economic development incentives are performing. Yup, there’s really a tool for that – software that lets government agencies measure whether the money they give away in the name of economic development is doing what it’s supposed to do. And it lets companies do the same thing, so if their subsidies are tied to benchmarks (i.e., performance-based), they know when they can collect.
5 things to think about when Amazon comes to town, a conversation with Dick Lavine about Texas' oversized and "perverse" corporate subsidy program and more on why the CARES Act 2.0 does little to help struggling workers. Use our data to tell the story in your community.
In 2001, legislators in Texas approved an unusual process for how corporations receive economic development subsidies. I asked Dick Lavine, a longtime fiscal and tax policy expert in the Lone Star state, 5 questions about its effectiveness and what could happen later this year, when the legislature (as expected) votes on renewing the program known by its place in the tax code, Chapter 313.