News Release

Billions in Local Corporate Subsidies Highlighted by New York Times Series


The New York Times is running a series on “incentives” companies get from governments. Critics often refer to these as subsidies — or giveaways. Two recent Times pieces are “As Companies Seek Tax Deals, Governments Pay High Price” and “Lines Blur as Texas Gives Industries a Bonanza.” The piece “When Hollywood Comes to Town” is slated for publication Tuesday.

Also, see video from the Times on the “Border War” between Kansas and Missouri, as each state attempts to lure companies from the other.

LeRoy is executive director and Mattera is research director for Good Jobs First, a group “promoting accountability in economic development and smart growth for working families.” They have focused on exposing subsidies to companies from state and local governments since 1998.

LeRoy said today: “Shining a light on the huge costs of job subsidies is critical. Taxpayers know now that we are spending billions on runaway shops, poverty-wage employers like Walmart, private for-profit prisons, and the Wall Street investment banks that tanked our economy. Those are dollars that could be used to maintain our crumbling infrastructure, improve our overcrowded schools, and keep colleges and universities affordable. Those investments are the safe bets for long-term growth and prosperity.”

Mattera said today: “Hard-pressed state and local governments are spending tens of billions of dollars each year giving subsidies to companies that usually don’t need them and often don’t create the promised jobs and other economic benefits. … We worked closely with the Times and are pleased to have contributed what appears to be a large majority of the company-specific information the paper used for its excellent online feature.”

LeRoy added: “The database created by the New York Times to accompany its new series on economic development incentives draws heavily from Good Jobs First’s Subsidy Tracker search tool launched in 2010. Subsidy Tracker has become the best-practice standard for states to disclose their economic development spending. States as politically diverse as Tennessee and Maryland have publicly acknowledged our technical assistance in launching or improving their disclosure websites. We also know that high-level officials in more than 30 states have responded to our 50-state report-card studies on transparency, job creation and enforcement. Subsidy Tracker’s company-specific coverage also goes far beyond that of the Times’ database, which is limited to recipients of total subsidies in excess of $1 million.”

See Good Jobs First’s Subsidy Tracker.

Also see “Accountable USA,” which provides a state-by-state overview.