The titans of the sports apparel industry are reveling in the success of the Olympic athletes they’ve signed up to wear their products in Rio. At the same time, the companies themselves are competing in their own games: the Corporate Welfare Olympics.
By Bryan Lowry, July 14, 2015
Kansas handed out tax credits for plugging abandoned oil wells and shooting a movie in the state in 2013, but the state Department of Revenue won’t say how much they were worth or who got them.
A recent series of articles from the Portland Press Herald (see Payday at the Mill and Shrewd Financiers Exploit Unsophisticated Maine Legislators) is bringing new attention to the complex system of state level New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC).
On the heels of a terrific NPR-station exposé, the District of Columbia has become the first large U.S. jurisdiction to enact campaign finance reform thanks to job subsidies becoming transparent.
Washington, DC—Despite the District of Columbia embracing four leading best practices, other basic economic development standards and safeguards remain absent.
- failure to set job creation and job quality standards,
- lax reporting on project outcomes,
- failure to enforce existing standards, and
- the need for an online transparency database.
The report is available at:
Despite such shortcomings, experience shows that the District can rapidly change course. For example, recent enhancements raised D.C.’s ranking on job subsidy transparency from dead last to 26th among the states in a 2014 Good Jobs First national report card study.
Two-thousand fourteen was a banner year for our movement, hands down. The first move to require standardized subsidy-cost reporting! The first half of a legally-binding two-state cease fire deal! The first state ban on tax-break commissions! A big surge found in state disclosure of subsidies! Big improvements to our Subsidy Tracker, enabling first-ever mash-ups!
For many years, we at Good Jobs First have criticized GASB—the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, or “GAZ-bee”— for failing to require state and local governments to disclose economic development subsidy spending in a uniform way.
It appears that’s finally about to change, and if it does, it will be hard to overstate the significance of the news.