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.
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.
Money Lost to the Cloud: How Data Centers Benefit from State and Local Government Subsidies
This report explores state and local subsidies provided to data centers owned by tech giants. Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon Web Services have been awarded more than $2 billion. The report identifies 11 data center megadeals with the average cost per job of $1.95 million. It also covers data-center-specific tax exemption programs in 27 states.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This study, prepared at the request of the Communications Workers of America, finds that 16 T-Mobile call centers in 11 states have received a total of $61 million in subsidies.
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.
The world's largest financial services firm rarely makes a move without getting taxpayers to help foot the bill, a new report suggests. Citigroup uses threats of moving facilities and jobs elsewhere to repeatedly play state against state and locality against locality and attract millions of dollars in subsidies. Over the past 18 years this practice has won Citigroup over $226 million from New York and New Jersey governments, sometimes for moving jobs from one state to the other.
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.
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.