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.
States and localities have given retail juggernaut Amazon almost a quarter-billion dollars in economic development subsidies in the past two years for warehouses the company must build to fulfill the rapid-delivery service tied to its Amazon Prime business model.
BP and Its Brethren: Identifying the Largest Violators of Environmental, Health and Safety Laws in the United States
In Search of A Level Playing Field: What Leaders of Small Business Organizations Think About Economic Development Incentives
A national survey of leaders of small business organizations reveals that they overwhelmingly believe that state economic development incentives favor big businesses, that states are overspending on large individual deals, and that state incentive programs are not effectively meeting the needs of small businesses seeking to grow.
Work for All the Crafts: Building Normal's Multimodal Transit Hub into Illinois' Second Busiest Amtrak Station
The building of Normal, Illinois’ Uptown Station created 140,000 hours of work for construction workers in at least 13 different crafts, who were then suffering the highest unemployment rates of their careers. The $49 million project was supported by a $22 million Transportation Infrastructure Generating Employment Recovery (TIGER) grant, part of the federal stimulus.
Public pensions are under threat of cuts in Chicago. Rhetoric surrounding the issue seems to ignore the influence of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) on reducing critical revenues for the City of Chicago. Nearly one out of every ten property tax dollars collected gets diverted into TIF accounts. Good Jobs First seeks to put current pension costs (known as employer normal costs) into comparative context with revenue diverted into TIF accounts. Any fair budgeting discussion of pensions must include the enormous revenues diverted by TIF.
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
Bosses for Buses: U.S. Employers Supporting Public Transit
American employers are organizing and winning better public transportation in many metro areas. Major employers such as universities and hospitals and coalitions of businesses help explain why state and local ballot initiatives for transit consistently win more than 70 percent of the time.
Yet at the national level, there is not a unified corporate voice for transit; this has been especially evident during three recent federal debates that affected this vital public service. Instead, there are disparate voices speaking only to selected aspects of transit
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.
The Job-Creation Shell Game: Ending the Wasteful Practice of Subsidizing Companies that Move Jobs from One State to Another
This study describes how state and local governments waste billions of dollars each year on economic development subsidies given to companies for moving existing jobs from one state to another rather. It also looks at how the existence of relocation subsidies emboldens some large companies to demand large job blackmail subsidies to stay put. The report offers policy recommendations to address the problem.
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
Illinois loses over a billion dollars in potential tax revenues through four corporate tax loopholes—three involving how taxable corporate income is computed and another that allows retailers to “skim” from consumers’ sales tax payments.
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.
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
This article, published in Planning and Environmental Law, a journal of the American Planning Association, examines the nation's most controversial kind of economic development subsidy: tax increment financing. It includes a segment on the notorious TIF dispute currently taking place in New Mexico, where radical TIF deregulation threatens to undermine funding for state and local public services.
Chicago and Washington -- Local governments can write more effective contracts to improve the odds that companies receiving economic development incentives keep their promises to create good jobs and other community benefits - or pay taxpayers back.
Chicago -- Job subsidies granted by several Illinois state agencies have severely shortchanged Chicago and many parts of Cook County. Instead of helping to revitalize areas in the region hardest-hit by plant closings and job flight, the state's development deals have favored affluent, outlying areas with low unemployment and the strongest tax base. The resulting spatial mismatch between new job creation at the fringe and economic need at the core means many transit-dependent workers cannot benefit from regional growth.
In this extensively researched study, we show that the giant retailer has received more than $1 billion in economic development subsidies from state and local governments across the country. Taxpayers have helped finance not only Wal-Mart stores, but also the company's huge network of distribution centers, more than 90 percent of which have gotten subsidies. The report also includes policy proposals, including a prohibition on subsidies to big-box retailers except in distressed areas that are underserved by retail outlets (and in those cases the recipient of the subsidy should be required to pay a living wage).
Note: Updated information on this subject can be found on our Wal-Mart Subsidy Watch website.
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."
This report includes a 25-year historical narrative on the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, an analysis of the EDGE Tax Credit and Single Sales Factor subsidies, and five case studies on company-specific deals.
A comprehensive summary and database of 122 state performance audits of economic development programs of the last decade.
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.