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.
Abating Our Future: How Students Pay for Corporate Tax Breaks
Economic development tax abatements given to corporations cost public school districts $2.37 billion in foregone revenue in fiscal year 2019. That’s an increase of 13 percent – a $273 million jump – from just two years earlier and came during the pre-pandemic period of economic prosperity, a new report details.
The losses were widespread: 97 school districts lost more than $5 million each, and 149 districts lost more than $1,000 per student. That left less money for students, who suffered poorer schools, and caused working families to pay higher local and state taxes.
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.
Shortchanging Small Business: How Big Businesses Dominate State Economic Development Incentives
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.
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.
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
Good Jobs First, working with Interfaith Worker Justice and the Gulf Coast Commission on Reconstruction Equity, has issued a report on the Gulf Opportunity Zone bonds. This $14 billion program, created by Congress in December, is the one portion of the Hurricane Katrina aid package that gives the affected states--Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama--control over which companies will receive economic incentives for rebuilding. Our report provides a list of policy options that would allow the states to allocate the bonds in ways that promote efficiency, equity and accountability.
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.
The first study to catalog state and local economic development subsidies given to private prisons.
A comprehensive summary and database of 122 state performance audits of economic development programs of the last decade.