Good Jobs First Blog
On March 11, President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan (ARP) into law. Like previous Covid relief packages, the ARP allocates significant sums to American businesses, both large and small. Specifically, the bill contains almost $107 billion in direct relief to businesses and additional, significant appropriations for various employer tax credits. The remaining $1.8 trillion, however, will support direct assistance to Americans, augmented social programs, and vaccine distribution.
We all know that state governments vary greatly in their policies on a variety of issues. I just discovered the degree to which they also diverge in their willingness to disclose data on their implementation of those policies. I learned this lesson in the course of gathering data from state environmental regulators across the country for a major expansion of the Violation Tracker database. Next week, my colleagues and I will post 50,000 new entries from those agencies along with a report analyzing the data.
For decades, the public had no meaningful way of knowing how much schools lost via government subsidies given to corporations as part of “economic development”. We could reasonably assume it was substantial: property taxes are the biggest source of public school funding, so giving corporations a pass on paying some or all of it inevitably hits schools the hardest.
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.