We posted a new version of Subsidy Tracker, Good Jobs First’s database of company-specific subsidy awards from state and local governments across the country as well as federal agencies. During this round of updates, we added over 17,000 entries from 112 state and local programs from 28 states. We also updated the federal programs. We also added nine megadeals.
Your state and local government’s files on economic development subsidies are just that—your files.
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.
The idea behind the Opportunity Zones is to persuade individuals and corporations to invest their capital gains in projects in poor neighborhoods. In return, those investors receive lucrative federal tax breaks. No matter what one might think about this underlying idea of OZs, the execution and administration of the program has fallen short. Their pervasive lack of transparency and accountability is largely to blame.
Good Jobs First’s latest tally of economic development subsidies given to Amazon.com finds state and local governments have given the retail behemoth more than $3.7 billion. How much more is becoming increasingly hard to tell.
South Carolina is a state that’s given large subsidies to big companies – Boeing, Michelin, Volvo, Continental Tire, Google to name a few – and it’s also been one of the worst in the country when it comes to revealing the full costs of those deals.
by Jennifer Morgan
Tracking how states provide incentives for economic development sometimes can be as simple as searching their online reporting platform. Localities, however, often make it difficult to find information on their subsidy recipients. They either require this data be accessed through an open records request, which is burdensome, or they bounce the request from department to department, and eventually decline to disclose.