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.
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.
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.
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.
Show Us the Subsidized Jobs: An Evaluation of State Government Online Disclosure of Economic Development Subsidy Awards and Outcomes
Creating Scandals Instead of Jobs: The Failures of Privatized State Economic Development Agencies
The moves by some states to outsource economic development functions to “public-private partnerships” have, by and large, become costly failures characterized by misuse of taxpayer funds, conflicts of interest, excessive executive pay and bonuses, questionable subsidy awards, exaggerated job-creation claims, lack of public disclosure of key records, and resistance to basic oversight.
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.
In this article for the American Planning Association’s Planning magazine, Greg LeRoy joins other economic development experts in providing advice to the new Administration.
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.
In this report produced jointly with Citizens for Tax Justice, we look at Verizon's federal and state tax dodging in general as well as its tax avoidance linked to state and local economic development subsidies.
Paid to Sprawl: Subsidized Job Flight from Cleveland and Cincinnati
Many Ohio companies were awarded lucrative property tax breaks as they moved facilities around within the Cleveland and Cincinnati metro areas. The subsidized relocations, affecting an estimated 14,500 workers, were overwhelmingly outward bound and by many measures fueled suburban sprawl and regional inequality. Full Report (11MB). Executive Summary. Press Release. Appendices: Cleveland Area Relocations. Cincinnati Area Relocations.
Governors in several states are pushing for the privatization of their economic development agencies. Public-Private Power Grab reviews the track record of states that have already taken this step and finds a history of performance problems, scandals and diminished accountability. Full report. 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.
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.
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, released in conjunction with the National Education Association, examines the impact of property tax based subsidies on school revenues and the role that school boards have in the economic development process.
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.