Financial Exposure: Rating the States on Economic Development Transparency
An evaluation of 250 major state-level economic development programs across all 50 states and the District of Columbia found that 154 of those programs—or 62%—disclose which companies receive public support, while 96 do not. But almost every state knows how to disclose and does so: 48 states plus the District of Columbia—or 96%—provide some degree of recipient disclosure. The gap reflects how inconsistent states are in reporting on all their major programs.
Federal Dollars, States’ Recoveries: How Poorly Most States are Disclosing CARES ACT Spending
Most states are failing to provide a full and complete picture of how they have been spending billions of dollars in assistance provided by Congress to help their residents recover from the financial burdens caused by COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, just six states do it well: Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Wyoming. Eight states and the District of Columbia fail to disclose any meaningful information online.
These are among the findings from a Good Jobs First review of the online disclosure practices of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, as they have spent a combined $111.8 billion from the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF).
Update (1/4/2022): After this report was published, officials at the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC) brought to our attention that the Coronavirus Relief Fund spending data posted at on pandemicoversight.gov is cumulative, despite the columns being labeled for only the latest quarter. We had reached out to PRAC while writing the report to fact-check our findings, which included our observation that only the most recent quarter’s data was publicly showing, but PRAC did not respond.
Putting Pension Costs in Context: How Corporate Tax Breaks are Diverting State Revenue Needed for Public Employees' Retirement (Part II)
The second part of this report looks at seven states that are putting corporate welfare before pension security for public employees. $7 billion was spent on corporate subsidies and tax breaks in Colorado, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, South Carolina, Texas, and Vermont in FY2018/2019. Less than half of that amount would have covered the states' pension system contributions.
Early Tax Abatement Disclosures Under GASB 77: Incomplete, Mislabeled -- and Occasionally Spectacular
As of early June 2017, more than a dozen local governments have issued Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs) reporting for the first time how much revenue they lost to economic development tax break programs. Some are overly narrow, others needlessly difficult to decipher -- and a few provide taxpayers outstanding new information.
Sprawl vs. Unions
The three very different stories of Building Trades union members in Atlanta, Denver, and Portland, Ore., show just how much urban development patterns affect workers.
Putting State Pension Costs in Context
Public pensions are under assault throughout the United States. Led to believe that retirement costs for government workers are out of control, governors and legislators in numerous states have been moving to cut benefits and tighten eligibility requirements. Good Jobs First seeks to put current pension costs (known as employer normal costs) into comparative context. Focusing on 10 states where the pension cost controversy has been intense, we compare those costs to the amount of revenue those states lose each year as the result of economic development subsidies offered to corporations as well as the tax preferences and accounting loopholes (including offshore tax havens) used by companies.
Show Us the Subsidized Jobs: An Evaluation of State Government Online Disclosure of Economic Development Subsidy Awards and Outcomes
Prominent studies that purport to measure and rank the states’ “business climates” are actually politicized grab-bags of data. They contradict each other wildly, have no predictive value, and should not be used to inform public policies. This is only the third such analysis of pseudo-social science “business climatology” in 27 years.
Paying Taxes to the Boss: How a Growing Number of States Subsidize Companies with the Withholding Taxes of Workers
States are increasingly using the withholding taxes of their workers to subsidize companies. This is justified in the name of job creation, but payments often go to firms that simply move existing jobs from one state to another, or to ones that threaten to move unless they get paid to stay put.
Full text of report
Appendix: subsidy program descriptions
Spreadsheet list of companies receiving subsidies linked to personal income tax revenue
This companion report to our Money for Something and Show Us the Subsidies studies evaulates state subsidy programs on their use of clawbacks and other penalties in enforcing job-creation, job quality and other performance standards.Press release. Executive summary. Full report with appendices. Full report without appendices. Appendices.
Based on two community-labor “boot camps,” this first-ever manual features inspirational stories of creative grassroots campaign victories. Plus links to strategic resources and a national directory of rider groups. Press release.
In this report Good Jobs First reveals that retailers in 26 states are being allowed to "skim" more than $1 billion a year as compensation for collecting sales taxes on behalf of state and local governments. The biggest impact is felt in the 13 of those states that put no ceiling on the amount of compensation any given retail company can receive, thus giving a windfall to the likes of Wal-Mart. Press release
Good Jobs First has found that General Growth Properties, the country's second largest owner and operator of shopping malls, has drained more than $200 million in revenues from local governments around the country. This is the main finding of a study of economic development subsidies received by GGP as well as the company's frequent challenges to its property tax assessments.
This report, for the first time we believe, begins to provide evidence that the job-related arguments against smart growth are dead wrong. Rather than diminishing the number of construction jobs, it turns out that smart growth is in many ways better than sprawl in creating employment for workers who build residential and commercial structures as well as transportation infrastructure.
This report examines legislative changes to two geographically targeted economic development programs: tax increment financing (TIF) and enterprise zones. It asks the question: Have laws governing these programs been weakened to permit the use of these programs in non-blighted or affluent areas? In virtually every state that has weakened its TIF or enterprise zone program, the answer is "Yes."
No More Candy Store is the original compilation of grassroots remedies for corporate welfare abuse -- remedies like money-back guarantee "clawbacks," requirements that subsidized companies pay fair wages and benefits, rules for full disclosure, environmental protection and "anti-piracy" safeguards against "paying Peter to rob Paul" with taxpayers money. Verbatim passages from all of the nation's best state and local laws and contracts, ready-made for activists, legislators and anyone seeking to make economic development subsidies accountable.