Corporate subsidies drain billions from public schools. Companies fined billions by regulators – here and abroad. States hide billions in pandemic-relief… we’re on it! And we can do even more with your support.
Arlene here, wrapping up my first full year with Good Jobs First. I barely know where to start, so let’s dive in!
In a national study we issued in March 2021 on the harm of business incentives to school revenues, certain places stood out for their enormous tax abatements. A deeper analysis shows that the lost revenue falls disproportionately on low-income school districts, those with the most Black and Brown students, and those already suffering from regressive revenue systems.
Setting aside for a moment the debate over whether Ohio's economic development subsidies achieve their stated goals – among them job creation or getting companies to open where they otherwise wouldn’t – the question becomes whether the group most impacted by the revenue loss should have full control over its portion or even veto harmful deals. We think the answer is "yes."
While hundreds of millions of dollars are lost each year to incentives, 61 of the 81 public school districts in South Carolina remain underfunded. At an average salary of $50,395 in 2019, the $423 foregone revenue could have hired 8,394 teachers. Several poor districts could close their funding gap simply if the counties stopped abating schools' taxes.
The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote about a new Good Jobs First report that found no school district in the country lost more revenue to corporate tax abatements than Philadelphia schools.
Good Jobs First's Katie Furtado explains how the organization was able to determine public school districts lost $2.37 billion to corporate tax abatements in fiscal year 2019 -- and that's just what we could confirm. The actual total is much, much greater.
For decades, the public had no meaningful way of knowing how much schools lost via government subsidies given to corporations as part of “economic development”. We could reasonably assume it was substantial: property taxes are the biggest source of public school funding, so giving corporations a pass on paying some or all of it inevitably hits schools the hardest.
Good Jobs First talked with education expert Dr. Kendall Deas about the role corporate incentives and subsidies play in South Carolina, which in fiscal year 2019 cost the state’s public schools $423 million – a $99 million increase in two years, according to our analysis. The findings raise a key question: do newly arriving companies that get big tax breaks pay their fair share for the public services they and their employees utilize?
When a local government does not report on tax abatements, is it not complying with the GASB 77 disclosure rule, or is there nothing to disclose? This blog answers the question.
By Christine Wen