Money Lost to the Cloud: How Data Centers Benefit from State and Local Government Subsidies

by Kasia Tarczynska
Published: October, 2016

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.

full report

press release

Smart Skills versus Mindless Megadeals: Cost-Effective Workforce Development versus Costly “Buffalo Hunting,” with Proven Policy Solutions

by Thomas Cafcas & Greg LeRoy
Published: September, 2016

Using data from dozens of programs and deals in Good Jobs First’s Subsidy Tracker database, we draw sharp comparisons between the costs of workforce development programs versus company-specific “megadeals.” Whereas 31 out of 33 training programs have four-figure costs per job, our current megadeals database shows an average cost to taxpayers of more than $658,000 per job.

full report

press release

The $160 Billion Bank Fee: What Violation Tracker 2.0 Shows about Penalties Imposed on Major Financial Offenders

by Philip Mattera
Published: June, 2016

An analysis of a subset of the new data added to Violation Tracker documents the astounding variety of big bank misconduct.

full report

press release

Slicing the Budget Pie for Big Business: How Three States Allocate Economic Development Dollars, Large Companies versus Small

by Kasia Tarczynska and Thomas Cafcas with Greg LeRoy
Published: March, 2016

Amidst a political season thick with pro-small business rhetoric, a new study on what states actually spend to help create private-sector jobs reveals a sharp bias against the “entrepreneurial economy.”

press release

full text

Shortchanging Small Business: How Big Businesses Dominate State Economic Development Incentives

by Greg LeRoy, Carolyn Fryberger, Kasia Tarczynska, Thomas Cafcas, Elizabeth Bird and Philip Mattera
Published: October, 2015

Governors and state legislators routinely praise small businesses for their contributions to economic growth and job creation, but states actually give big businesses the dominant share of their economic development incentive awards.

press release

full report

BP and Its Brethren: Identifying the Largest Violators of Environmental, Health and Safety Laws in the United States

by Philip Mattera
Published: October, 2015

This report analyzes the data assembled in Violation Tracker, a new database on corporate misconduct created by the Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First.

full report

press release

Violation Tracker database

In Search of A Level Playing Field: What Leaders of Small Business Organizations Think About Economic Development Incentives

by Carolyn Fryberger et al.
Published: September, 2015

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. 

full report

press release

Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Statement No. 77 on Cost Reporting of Tax Abatements for Economic Development

by Greg LeRoy
Published: September, 2015

For the first time ever, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board is requiring that state and local governments report how much revenue they lose to business tax breaks granted for economic development purposes.Good Jobs First has published an analysis of the GASB Rule No. 77.


Uncle Sam's Favorite Corporations: Identifying the Large Companies that Dominate Federal Subsidies

by Philip Mattera and Kasia Tarczynska
Published: March, 2015

Based on an expansion of the Subsidy Tracker database to the federal level, this report shows that big business receives an outsize share of grants, allocated tax credits, loans, loan guarantees and bailout funds awarded by federal agencies.

press release
full report
Subsidy Tracker 3.0

A Better Deal for the District: Enhancing Economic Development Transparency and Accountability in Washington, DC

by Thomas Cafcas
Published: February, 2015

The District of Columbia has embraced four best-practice economic development policies (local hiring, fiscal impact analyses, the debt cap, and a Unified Economic Development Budget or UEDB), but it remains behind on many basic accountability standards relative to nearby jurisdictions.

This report seeks to show how the District can build upon its past progress by disclosing the details of subsidy projects in an online database, requiring strong job creation and quality standards, and recapturing subsidies when recipients underperform.

full report

press release

Tax Fairness: An Answer to State Budget Problems

by Steve Herzenberg and Greg LeRoy
Published: February, 2015

This report from Keystone Research Center and Good Jobs First shows that states could generate up to $128 billion in revenue to meet state needs by fixing inequities in state tax codes. The study shows that surging inequality has skewed huge amounts of income to the one percent, who pay far lower tax rates than the middle class, squeezing state budgets unnecessarily.

full report (revised Feb. 18, 2015)

Sprawl vs. Unions

by Greg LeRoy
Published: January, 2015

The three very different stories of Building Trades union members in Atlanta, Denver, and Portland, Ore., show just how much urban development patterns affect workers.

full text

Tax Breaks and Inequality: Enriching Billionaires and Low-Road Employers in the Name of Economic Development

by Philip Mattera, Kasia Tarczynska and Greg LeRoy
Published: December, 2014

A mash-up of data from Subsidy Tracker with companies linked to members of the Forbes 400 and large low-wage employers indicates that corporate tax breaks and other subsidies are contributing to economic inequality.

press release
full report

Work for All the Crafts: Building Normal's Multimodal Transit Hub into Illinois' Second Busiest Amtrak Station

by Thomas Cafcas and Greg LeRoy
Published: October, 2014

The building of Normal, Illinois’ Uptown Station created 140,000 hours of work for construction workers in at least 13 different crafts, who were then suffering the highest unemployment rates of their careers. The $49 million project was supported by a $22 million Transportation Infrastructure Generating Employment Recovery (TIGER) grant, part of the federal stimulus.

press release

full report

Ending Job Piracy, Building Regional Prosperity

by Leigh McIlvaine with Greg LeRoy
Published: July, 2014

Local job piracy – the use of subsidies to attract businesses from nearby communities in the same metro area – generates heavy costs for regions in terms of both lost tax revenues and externalities associated with sprawl while failing to create new jobs.  But anti-piracy agreements used by the Denver, Colorado and Dayton, Ohio regions have cultivated an economic development ethos that is focused on shared regional prosperity.

 full report

press release

Work for All the Crafts: Restoring the Union Depot in St. Paul

by Greg LeRoy and Thomas Cafcas
Published: June, 2014

Thirteen Building Trades crafts got work when the stimulus-backed TIGER program helped restore the Union Depot in St. Paul. And the resulting redevelopment around the Depot and along the new Green Line between the Twin Cities' downtowns will create billions of dollars' more work for years to come.

press release

full report

Memphis Blues: How Corporate Property Tax Breaks and Stadium Subsidies are Sapping the City's Fiscal Strength

by Thomas Cafcas with Kasia Tarczynska, Philip Mattera and Greg LeRoy
Published: June, 2014

The City of Memphis has chosen to deliberately avoid its municipal pension obligations at the same time it has granted a series of costly property tax abatements, or PILOTs, to large corporations such as Nike and International Paper while also taking on big debt obligations to benefit other companies such as Electrolux
and Bass Pro and professional sports franchises.

Putting Chicago Pension Costs in Context

by Thomas Cafcas
Published: April, 2014

Public pensions are under threat of cuts in Chicago. Rhetoric surrounding the issue seems to ignore the influence of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) on reducing critical revenues for the City of Chicago. Nearly one out of every ten property tax dollars collected gets diverted into TIF accounts. Good Jobs First seeks to put current pension costs (known as employer normal costs) into comparative context with revenue diverted into TIF accounts. Any fair budgeting discussion of pensions must include the enormous revenues diverted by TIF.

Subsidizing the Corporate One Percent

by Philip Mattera
Published: February, 2014

As a result of substantial enhancements we have made to our Subsidy Tracker database, it is possible for the first time to estimate the share of total state and local economic development awards going to the largest corporations.This report summarizes the findings.

full report

press release

Subsidy Tracker 2.0 database

Top 100 Parents

Show Us the Subsidized Jobs: An Evaluation of State Government Online Disclosure of Economic Development Subsidy Awards and Outcomes

by Philip Mattera, Thomas Cafcas, Leigh McIlvaine, Kasia Tarczynska, Elizabeth Bird and Greg LeRoy
Published: January, 2014

More states than ever are disclosing company-specific information on economic development subsidies, but the quality of the transparency is highly uneven.

Press release
Full report
Executive summary
Table of links to state disclosure websites
State appendices with scoring details

Putting State Pension Costs in Context

Published: January, 2014

Public pensions are under assault throughout the United States. Led to believe that retirement costs for government workers are out of control, governors and legislators in numerous states have been moving to cut benefits and tighten eligibility requirements. Good Jobs First seeks to put current pension costs (known as employer normal costs) into comparative context. Focusing on 10 states where the pension cost controversy has been intense, we compare those costs to the amount of revenue those states lose each year as the result of economic development subsidies offered to corporations as well as the tax preferences and accounting loopholes (including offshore tax havens) used by companies.

Press release

National summary

Combined version of national and state papers

Creating Scandals Instead of Jobs: The Failures of Privatized State Economic Development Agencies

by Greg LeRoy, Thomas Cafcas, Leigh McIlvaine, Kasia Tarczynska and Philip Mattera
Published: October, 2013

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.

Full report   Press release

Who is Funding Texas Gov. Rick Perry's Partisan Job-Piracy Trips?

by Greg LeRoy, Philip Mattera, Thomas Cafcas and Leigh McIlvaine
Published: September, 2013

Good Jobs First asks whether Texas Gov. Rick Perry's unprecedented partisan job-piracy trips have been financed in part by taxpayer dollars.

Press release   Full report

Sink or Swim? Who will pay and who will benefit from DC Water’s $2.6 billion Clean Rivers Project?

by Thomas Cafcas
Published: June, 2013

Over the course of the next 15 years, DC Water will undertake $2.6 billion in needed water infrastructure improvements resulting in less pollution entering the Potomac and Anacostia rivers. Sink or Swim? uses original research to analyze how DC Water will pay for the Clean Rivers Project and how it could benefit District residents through a local hiring policy.


Full text of report

Press release

Megadeals: The Largest Economic Development Subsidy Packages Ever Awarded By State and Local Governments in the United States

by Philip Mattera and Kasia Tarczynska with Greg LeRoy
Published: June, 2013

In a painstaking review using hundreds of sources, Good Jobs First identifies 240 “megadeals,” or subsidy awards with a total state and local cost of $75 million or more each. The cumulative cost of these deals is more than $64 billion. The megadeals list is a new enhancement of Good Jobs First’s Subsidy Tracker database, the first online compilation of company-specific data on economic development deals from around the country.

Full report

Press release

full list of megadeals (with details) in spreadsheet form

Note: This list  contains new deals that have come to light since the report was published.

Grading Places: What Do the Business Climate Rankings Really Tell Us?

by Peter Fisher, with a preface by Greg LeRoy
Published: May, 2013

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.

A Good Deal for Mississippi? A Report on Taxpayer Assistance to Nissan in Canton, Mississippi

by Philip Mattera and Kasia Tarczynska
Published: May, 2013

In this report commissioned by the United Auto Workers, Good Jobs First found that state and local officials in Mississippi have provided a lot more in subsidies to Nissan's assembly plant in Canton than has previously been reported.

full report

press release

Bosses for Buses: U.S. Employers Supporting Public Transit

by Greg LeRoy, Thomas Cafcas, Leigh McIlvaine, Kasia Tarczynska and Philip Mattera
Published: May, 2013

American employers are organizing and winning better public transportation in many metro areas. Major employers such as universities and hospitals and coalitions of businesses help explain why state and local ballot initiatives for transit consistently win more than 70 percent of the time.

 Yet at the national level, there is not a unified corporate voice for transit; this has been especially evident during three recent federal debates that affected this vital public service. Instead, there are disparate voices speaking only to selected aspects of transit

full report

press release

Show Us the Local Subsidies: Cities and Counties Disclosing Economic Development Subsidies

by Leigh McIlvaine and Philip Mattera with Greg LeRoy
Published: May, 2013
Two-thirds of the economic development subsidy programs run by the nation’s largest cities and counties do not use the web to report which companies are receiving the tax breaks and other forms of financial assistance. Among the third of programs that do practice online transparency, most do so poorly, failing to disclose the dollar value of the subsidies. An even smaller number reveal key outcomes such as how many jobs were created. On the other hand, a few localities such as Memphis/Shelby County, Tennessee; New York City; Austin, Texas; and Chicago do a good job at disclosure.

full report

press release

The Job-Creation Shell Game: Ending the Wasteful Practice of Subsidizing Companies that Move Jobs from One State to Another

by Greg LeRoy, Kasia Tarczynska, Leigh McIlvaine, Thomas Cafcas and Philip Mattera
Published: January, 2013

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.

full report

press release

Taxation without Employment: The Case for the District's Strong Local Hiring Rules

by Thomas Cafcas
Published: December, 2012

Despite a building boom in the District of Columbia, D.C. residents remain underrepresented on area construction sites. Recently strengthened local hiring rules could reduce the gap, but much remains to be done to implement the new policy. Taxation without Employment: The Case for the District’s Strong Local Hiring Rules reviews the District’s experience with local hiring and explores why the recently strengthened requirements appear successful.

full report

press release

What the Country Needs Now, Mr. President

by Greg LeRoy
Published: November, 2012

In this article for the American Planning Association’s Planning magazine, Greg LeRoy joins other economic development experts in providing advice to the new Administration.

Selling Snake Oil to the States: The American Legislative Exchange Council's Flawed Prescriptions for Prosperity

by Dr. Peter Fisher
Published: November, 2012

Co-published with the Iowa Policy Project

An analysis of the 15-point ALEC-Laffer State Competitiveness Index finds that it does not predict a stronger state economy. Indeed, those states ALEC rates best have done the worst since ALEC first began issuing Rich States, Poor States annually.

Full Report

Press Release

Economic Development Accountability Model Legislation

Published: October, 2012

Based on our report-card studies of major subsidy programs, Good Jobs First has released new versions of our model bills for economic development accountability.

Disclosure and Unified Reporting of Property Tax Abatements and Reductions

Clawbacks and Rescissions

Job Creation and Job Quality Standards

Unified Economic Development Budget

Combined Economic Development Accountability Model Legislation

Breaking Down Silos Between Economic Development and Public Transportation: An Evaluation of Four States’ Modest Efforts In Making Job Subsidies Location-Efficient

by Leigh McIlvaine and Greg LeRoy
Published: September, 2012

A study of the efforts of four states to curb “job sprawl” by altering economic development subsidies finds that they have had little effect on transit ridership. Full report. Press release.

Paying Taxes to the Boss: How a Growing Number of States Subsidize Companies with the Withholding Taxes of Workers

by Philip Mattera, Kasia Tarczynska, Leigh McIlvaine, Thomas Cafcas and Greg LeRoy
Published: April, 2012

States are increasingly using the withholding taxes of their workers to subsidize companies. This is justified in the name of job creation, but payments often go to firms that simply move existing jobs from one state to another, or to ones that threaten to move unless they get paid to stay put.
Press release
Executive summary
Full text of report
Appendix: subsidy program descriptions
Spreadsheet list of companies receiving subsidies linked to personal income tax revenue

Closing Corporate Loopholes, Bolstering Illinois’ Budget

by Thomas Cafcas and Greg LeRoy
Published: February, 2012

Illinois loses over a billion dollars in potential tax revenues through four corporate tax loopholes—three involving how taxable corporate income is computed and another that allows retailers to “skim” from consumers’ sales tax payments.

Money-Back Guarantees for Taxpayers: Clawbacks and Other Enforcement Safeguards in State Economic Development Subsidy Programs

by Philip Mattera, Thomas Cafcas, Leigh McIlvaine, Andrew Seifter and Kasia Tarczynska
Published: January, 2012

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.

Money for Something: Job Creation and Job Quality Standards in State Economic Development Subsidy Programs

by Philip Mattera, Thomas Cafcas, Leigh McIlvaine, Andrew Seifter and Kasia Tarczynska
Published: December, 2011

This follow-up to our Show Us the Subsidies report evaluates state subsidy programs on their job-creation and other performance requirements as well as their job quality (wage and benefit) standards. Press Release. Full Report. Executive Summary. Appendices.

Transit Rider Organizing: A How-To Manual

by Greg LeRoy with nine contributors
Published: December, 2011

Based on two community-labor “boot camps,” this first-ever manual features inspirational stories of creative grassroots campaign victories. Plus links to strategic resources and a national directory of rider groups. Press release.

Behind the Counter at BWI: Engine of Development or Pocket of Poverty?

by Greg LeRoy
Published: November, 2011

Many workers providing food and retail service at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) are paid so little that they and their families depend on Medicaid, the Maryland Children’s Health Program, and food stamps.

Unpaid Bills: How Verizon Shortchanges Government Through Tax Dodging and Subsidies

by Citizens for Tax Justice and Good Jobs First
Published: November, 2011

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.

Connecticut Economic Development Subsidies: Costly and Blunt

by Thomas Cafcas with Greg LeRoy
Published: October, 2011

Connecticut’s major economic development expenditures are high in cost, poorly monitored and may be undermining the public goods that actually constitute the state’s competitive advantage for jobs. press release

Money on the Line: State and Local Economic Development Subsidies Received by T-Mobile Call Centers

Published: September, 2011

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.

Paid to Sprawl: Subsidized Job Flight from Cleveland and Cincinnati

by Greg LeRoy and Leigh McIlvaine
Published: July, 2011

Many Ohio companies were awarded lucrative property tax breaks as they moved facilities around within the Cleveland and Cincinnati metro areas.  The subsidized relocations, affecting an estimated 14,500 workers, were overwhelmingly outward bound and by many measures fueled suburban sprawl and regional inequality. Full Report (11MB). Executive Summary. Press Release.  Appendices: Cleveland Area Relocations. Cincinnati Area Relocations.

Kept in the Dark: Poor Reporting on New York City's Recovery Zone Bond Deals

by Bettina Damiani and Elizabeth Bird
Published: April, 2011

This report by Good Jobs New York analyzes transparency and accountability issues relating to New York City's Recovery Zone Facility Bond deals.

Slashing Subsidies, Bolstering Budgets: How States Can Save Money by Targeting Ineffective Economic Development Programs

by Philip Mattera, Leigh McIlvaine, Thomas Cafcas and Greg LeRoy
Published: March, 2011

Eliminating or reducing ineffective corporate subsidy programs can make a significant contribution to the efforts of state governments to address budget deficits. This report profiles ten poorly performing programs that would make good targets. Full report. Press release.

Shifting the Burden for Vital Public Services: Walmart's Tax Avoidance Schemes

by Philip Mattera
Published: February, 2011

This synopsis of our previous reports on Walmart and research by others finds that the giant retailer is avoiding a total of about $400 million a year in state and local taxes.

An Overview of Job Quality and Discretionary Economic Development Subsidies in New York City

by Fiscal Policy Institute, Good Jobs New York and the National Employment Law Project
Published: February, 2011

This policy brief outlines the mix of tools the New York City Industrial Development Agency uses to subsidize economic development—including financial assistance, tax breaks, capital improvements, and the sale or lease of City‐owned land—and provides an estimate of the quality of jobs created or retained by three significant subsidized projects.

Public-Private Power Grab: The Risks in Privatizing State Economic Development Agencies

by Philip Mattera, Leigh McIlvaine, Thomas Cafcas and Caitlin Lacy
Published: January, 2011

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 reportPress release.

SHOW US THE SUBSIDIES: An Evaluation of State Government Online Disclosure of Economic Development Subsidies

by Philip Mattera, Thomas Cafcas, Leigh McIlvaine, Caitlin Lacy, Elizabeth Williams and Sarah Gutschow
Published: December, 2010

Good Jobs First examines the subsidy disclosure practices of the 50 states (and D.C.). See which states do a good job of reporting on where the money is going and which keep taxpayers in the dark.

Note:  Good Jobs First issued an updated version of this report in January 2014.  See Show Us the Subsidized Jobs for updated disclosure information.

Report Overview (press release, appendices, executive summary)

Winning the Race: How America Can Lead the Global Clean Energy Economy

by Matthew Mayrl and Philip Mattera
Published: March, 2010

Co-published by the Apollo Alliance, this report argues that the United States should commit to the development of a strong domestic clean-energy manufacturing sector, but in doing so it should avoid the risk of indirectly subsidizing the expansion of the sector in offshore low-wage havens. An analysis of the recipients of the federal government's Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credits shows that some are going to companies putting their primary emphasis on producing wind and solar generating equipment in countries such as China and India. Press release

Growing Pennsylvania's High-Tech Economy: Choosing Effective Investments

by Greg LeRoy, et al.
Published: February, 2010

Two unique analyses argue that states should shun the costly "economic war among the states" and grow their own high-tech jobs, by playing to their strengths in high-tech skills and by helping small and young businesses.  Report Overview (press release, appendices, executive summary).

Show Us the Stimulus (Again): An Evaluation of State Government Recovery Act Websites

by Philip Mattera, Leigh McIlvaine, Caitlin Lacy & Thomas Cafcas
Published: January, 2010

Good Jobs First re-evaluates the quality of disclosure on the websites set up by state governments to educate the public about the flow of funds from the federal stimulus act. We find that states such as Kentucky, Illinois and Minnesota have made dramatic improvements in their sites over the past six months.  Report Overview (press release, state appendices, rankings summary).

Bonds and the Recovery Act: A Guide to Municipal Bonds Enabled Under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and Their Potential Impacts on New York Communities

by Allison Lirish Dean and Bettina Damiani
Published: January, 2010

Perhaps the most obscure aspect of the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is how it seeks to expand bond programs for public infrastructure and private economic development projects. A report released today by Good Jobs New York explains how the Recovery Act's new and expanded bond programs are facilitating economic recovery and where opportunities exist for public input.

Show Us the Stimulus: An Evaluation of State Government Recovery Act Websites

by Philip Mattera, Leigh McIlvaine, Caitlin Lacy, Michelle Lee and Thomas Cafcas
Published: July, 2009

An examination of the quality of disclosure on the official websites set up by state governments to educate the public about the flow of funds from the federal stimulus program.  Report Overview (press release, state appendices).

High Road or Low Road? Job Quality in the New Green Economy

by Philip Mattera et al.
Published: February, 2009

As the federal government prepares to spend billions of dollars promoting the creation of green jobs as part of the huge economy recovery bill, this report warns that the jobs already being created in climate-friendly sectors of the economy do not always measure up in terms of wages and other terms of employment. The report was commissioned by Change to Win, the Sierra Club, and the Teamsters and Laborers unions.

Before the Bailout of 2008: New York City's Experience with Tax Giveaways to Financial Giants

by Bettina Damiani and Allison Lack
Published: February, 2009

Good Jobs New York documents local taxpayer subsidies to six firms, and their role in the Temporary Assets Relief Program or TARP - American International Group, Bank of America, Bear Stearns, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Merrill Lynch. It finds that the deals have been plagued by porous contracts that lack accountability, very poor public disclosure and job losses. The report offers common sense transparency solutions.

Skimming the Sales Tax: How Wal-Mart and Other Big Retailers (Legally) Keep A Cut of the Taxes We Pay on Everyday Purchases

by Philip Mattera with Leigh McIlvaine
Published: November, 2008

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

Uncle Sam's Rusty Toolkit

by Greg LeRoy and Philip Mattera
Published: November, 2008

The advent of the Obama Administration presents an opportunity to reform federal economic development policy using innovations that have been pioneered at the state and local levels. Goods Jobs First provides a framework for that process in a this report released together with the AFL-CIO, Change to Win, Green for All, the National Employment Law Project, and the Partnership for Working Families. Press release

"TIF, Greenfields and Sprawl"

by Greg LeRoy
Published: February, 2008

This article, published in Planning and Environmental Law, a journal of the American Planning Association, examines the nation's most controversial kind of economic development subsidy: tax increment financing. It includes a segment on the notorious TIF dispute currently taking place in New Mexico, where radical TIF deregulation threatens to undermine funding for state and local public services.

The State of State Disclosure: An Evaluation of Public Information About Economic Development Subsidies, Procurement Contracts and Lobbying Activities

by Philip Mattera, Karla Walter, Julie Farb Blain and Michelle Lee
Published: November, 2007

The Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First evaluates the quantity and quality of state government Web-based disclosure on economic development subsidies, procurement contracts and state lobbying activities. The study finds signs of improvement but concludes that states have a long way to go to fulfill the potential of the Internet in enhancing the public's right to know. Press release.

Rolling Back Property Tax Payments: How Wal-Mart Short-Changes Schools and other Public Services by Challenging Its Property Tax Assessments

by Philip Mattera, Karla Walter, Julie Farb Blain and Colleen Ruddick
Published: October, 2007

This first-ever investigation of Wal-Mart's local property tax records finds that the retail giant systematically seeks to minimize its payment of taxes that support public schools and other vital local government services. Online appendices with lists of stores and distribution centers examined.

Growing At Whose Expense? How Tax Avoidance by Shopping Mall Developer General Growth Properties Inc. Harms Communities and Burdens Other Taxpayers

by Philip Mattera, Allison Lack and Karla Walter
Published: August, 2007

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.

Insider Baseball: How Current and Former Public Officials Pitched a Community Shutout for the New York Yankees

by Bettina Damiani, Eileen Markey and Dan Steinberg
Published: July, 2007

A deftly assembled lineup of former elected and appointed officials were employed by the Yankees organization to help push through a new baseball stadium even though the project won't benefit taxpayers or community members, claims Insider Baseball: How Current and Former Public Officials Pitched a Community Shutout for the New York Yankees, a new report by Good Jobs New York.

Pay, or We (Might) Go: How Citigroup Plays the State and Cities

by Dan Steinberg and Sarah Stecker
Published: June, 2007

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.

Sprawling by the Lake: How IDA-Granted Property Tax Exemptions Undermine Older Parts of the Buffalo/Niagara Metro Area

by Allison Lack
Published: May, 2007

Buffalo - Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs) in the Buffalo/Niagara metro area are subsidizing job creation and investment, but not in areas that most need them. In Erie County, wealthy suburbs - especially those with their own IDAs' contain disproportionate shares of IDA-granted property tax exemptions, fueling regional sprawl. State law that regulates IDAs could be amended to ensure that IDA tax breaks don't undermine regional growth plans and support jobs and investment where they are most needed.

The Ideal Deal: How Local Governments Can Get More for Their Economic Development Dollar

by Rachel Weber and David Santacroce
Published: March, 2007

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.

Gold Collar: How State Job Subsidies in the Chicago Region Favor Affluent Suburbs

by Jeff McCourt and Greg LeRoy
Published: January, 2007

Chicago -- Job subsidies granted by several Illinois state agencies have severely shortchanged Chicago and many parts of Cook County. Instead of helping to revitalize areas in the region hardest-hit by plant closings and job flight, the state's development deals have favored affluent, outlying areas with low unemployment and the strongest tax base. The resulting spatial mismatch between new job creation at the fringe and economic need at the core means many transit-dependent workers cannot benefit from regional growth.

The Thin Cities: How Subsidized Job Piracy Deepens Inequality in the Twin Cities Metro Area

by Greg LeRoy and Karla Water
Published: December, 2006

Economic development incentives that were originally intended to help revitalize older areas are instead being used by outlying suburbs to pirate jobs and tax revenues from older cities in the Twin Cities metro area. Local officials need a cooperative structure to curtail zero-sum job piracy and focus instead on jointly promoting the region. And the state should use incentive deals as leverage to make more jobs transit-accessible and alleviate traffic congestion.

The Geography of Incentives: Economic Development and Land Use in Michigan

by Greg LeRoy, Allison Lack and Karla Walter
Published: December, 2006

The unfair geographic distribution of economic development subsidies in Michigan favors well-off and thinly populated areas, delivering few benefits to the state as a whole and harming the state's economy. The state should get all the options on the table and begin coordinating its economic development programs with land use planning to make more efficient use of infrastructure, reduce tax base stress, and revitalize existing communities.

GO Zone Bonds as an Opportunity to Promote Social Justice in Katrina Reconstruction

by Phil Mattera
Published: April, 2006

Good Jobs First, working with Interfaith Worker Justice and the Gulf Coast Commission on Reconstruction Equity, has issued a report on the Gulf Opportunity Zone bonds. This $14 billion program, created by Congress in December, is the one portion of the Hurricane Katrina aid package that gives the affected states--Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama--control over which companies will receive economic incentives for rebuilding. Our report provides a list of policy options that would allow the states to allocate the bonds in ways that promote efficiency, equity and accountability.

Making The Connection: Transit-Oriented Development and Jobs

by Sarah Grady
Published: March, 2006

Transit-oriented development (TOD) is growing in popularity, due in part to its environmental benefits and innovative design. This report emphasizes another benefit, looking at the ways TOD can serve the needs of working families - particularly those with low and moderate income - by providing affordable housing and/or better access to jobs. Good Jobs First examines 25 TOD projects around the country and finds that projects with community benefits agreements, projects initiated by community development corporations (CDCs), and projects with exceptional private developers who intentionally sought to link people to job opportunities were more likely to address the needs of working families than most TOD projects.

Loot, Loot, Loot for the Home Team: How the Proposal to Subsidize a New Yankee Stadium Would Leave Residents and Taxpayers Behind

by Bettina Damiani and Dan Steinberg
Published: February, 2006

This report by Good Jobs New York reveals that taxpayers will pay a far higher price for a new Yankee Stadium than public officials and team executives have let on.  Direct and indirect subsidies could exceed $480 million and a city-sponsored analysis suggests the new stadium would not generate enough revenue to cover its cost to taxpayers. The report also argues that subsidizing this stadium is a costly and inefficient strategy for creating jobs. Finally, the South Bronx community that would be most impacted by the project has been excluded from the planning process.

Subsidizing Low-Wage Jobs: An Analysis of the First Economic Development Deals Disclosed Under Illinois' New Accountability Law

by Jeff McCourt
Published: February, 2006

Good Jobs First has just completed the first analysis of economic development deals disclosed under the new accountability law in Illinois. We found that many of the subsidies are going to companies that create jobs with pay levels below that needed for a family of four to  pay basic expenses. A full assessment of the quality  of the jobs is not possible, since the law does not require reporting on healthcare coverage.

Breaking the Codes: How State and Local Governments are Reforming Building Codes to Encourage Rehabilitation of Existing Structures

by Philip Mattera
Published: January, 2006

Over the last decade, a quiet revolution has been taking place in the way that state and local governments across the country regulate commercial and residential construction. A new flexibility in the application of building codes is making possible the rehabilitation of structures that would otherwise have remained neglected or abandoned. The new wave of "rehab codes" is playing a significant role in the redevelopment of core urban areas--a process that is a vital counterbalance to unchecked suburban sprawl.

Community Benefits Agreements: Making Development Projects Accountable

by Julian Gross, Legal Director of the Partnership for Working Families, Greg LeRoy of Good Jobs First, and Madeline Janis-Aparicio of Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy
Published: May, 2005

Good Jobs First and the Partnership for Working Families produced this updated version of their handbook on Community Benefits Agreements. These agreements include benefits such as living wages, local hiring, affordable housing, environmental improvements and funding for other community needs such as health clinics and youth centers. The report also includes a section on monitoring and enforcement of such agreements, as well as excerpts from key agreements.

They're in the Money; We're in the Dark: A Review of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation's Use of 9/11 Funds

by Stephanie Greenwood and Bettina Damiani
Published: August, 2004

Federal monies for the post-9/11 reconstruction of Lower Manhattan are skewed towards big business and high-income neighborhoods, our investigation finds. Community priorities such as affordable housing, job creation, and local transportation are being ignored. Probing the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) -- the entity formed to distribute Federal cash aid -- we found an agency that lacks transparency and has given numerous grants to companies with ties to LMDC board members.

They're in the Money; We're in the Dark is the most recent in Good Jobs New York's "Reconstruction Watch" series that evaluates the allocation of Federal economic development resources in the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center. Previous reports and updates on allocations are available at

Your Tax Dollars at Work...Offshore: How Foreign Outsourcing Firms are Capturing State Government Contracts

by Philip Mattera
Published: July, 2004

This report by the Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First spotlights the growing degree to which state governments are awarding contracts to offshore outsourcing firms. It was produced for the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (WashTech), a local union of the Communications Workers of America that supports workers in the information technology sector. The report found that 18 offshore outsourcing firms--including several billion-dollar companies from India--are aggressively seeking state government contract work, primarily in information technology, in at least 30 states. The 18 firms have already captured at least $75 million in offshore state contracts and are seeking more, in part by hiring former government officials and by making state electoral campaign contributions. The study also looks at the large number of state food-stamp call centers that are operated offshore.

Shopping for Subsidies: How Wal-Mart Uses Taxpayer Money to Finance Its Never-Ending Growth

by Philip Mattera and Anna Purinton
Published: May, 2004

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.

Know When to Fold 'Em: Time to Walk Away from NYC's "Corporate Retention" Game

by Stephanie Greenwood and Bettina Damiani
Published: February, 2004

Corporate retention deals negotiated by New York City in the 1990s failed to create jobs, despite their multimillion-dollar price tags, our investigation finds. Analyzing contracts never disclosed before between large firms and NYC, the report highlights thirteen outrageous deals. Some actually allowed companies to lay off as many as 20 percent of their employees with no penalty. Finally, the report highlights problems with the public reporting on these deals, citing differences between internal city documents and a mandated annual report. Following the release of this report, the NYC Industrial Development Agency announced several improvements to its decision-making process and to the corporate retention program as a whole. For further details please visitn   

The Jobs Are Back in Town: Urban Smart Growth and Construction Employment

by Phil Mattera and Greg LeRoy
Published: November, 2003

This report, for the first time we believe, begins to provide evidence that the job-related arguments against smart growth are dead wrong. Rather than diminishing the number of construction jobs, it turns out that smart growth is in many ways better than sprawl in creating employment for workers who build residential and commercial structures as well as transportation infrastructure.

The Policy Shift to Good Jobs: Cities, States and Counties Attaching Job Quality Standards to Development Subsidies

by Anna Purinton
Published: November, 2003

A national survey finds that the number of economic development subsidies with job quality standards is continuing to rise sharply, and that standards are becoming an everyday tool for effectively targeting development subsidies to businesses that create high-quality jobs.

Get Something Back! How Civic Engagement is Raising Economic Development Expectations in Minnesota

by Anne Nolan and Greg LeRoy
Published: October, 2003

A review of events since Minnesota enacted its first-in-the-nation economic development accountability law in 1995 finds that the law is a major factor contributing to an increase in civic engagement in economic development issues.

Missing the Bus: How States Fail to Connect Economic Development with Public Transit

by Mafruza Khan
Published: September, 2003

A 50-state survey of economic development subsidy programs--such as loans, grants, and tax incentives -- reveals that not one single state effectively coordinates its economic development spending with public transportation planning.

Labor Leaders as Smart Growth Advocates: How Unions See Suburban Sprawl and Work for Smart Growth Solutions

by Greg LeRoy
Published: August, 2003

This survey of union federation leaders -- 39 central labor council leaders and 11 state labor federation leaders -- reveals that all of them see serious problems in their regions being caused by suburban sprawl.

Straying from Good Intentions: How States are Weakening Enterprise Zone and Tax Increment Financing Programs

by Alyssa Talanker and Kate Davis
Published: August, 2003

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."

A Better Deal for Illinois: Improving Economic Development Policy

by Jeff McCourt and Greg LeRoy
Published: January, 2003

This report includes a 25-year historical narrative on the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, an analysis of the EDGE Tax Credit and Single Sales Factor subsidies, and five case studies on company-specific deals.

Protecting Public Education from Tax Giveaways to Corporations

by Kate Davis
Published: January, 2003

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.

Economic Development in Washington DC

by Alyssa Talanker and Kate Davis
Published: December, 2002

An analysis of 13 major economic development deals subsidized by the District of Columbia reveals a lack of safeguards to ensure the projects pay off for taxpayers, workers and communities.

In Search of the Great Pumpkin: Economic Development Accountability in North Dakota

by Anne Nolan and Greg LeRoy
Published: October, 2002

This broad review reveals that North Dakotans are being asked to take it on faith that economic development subsidies are producing results.

Subsidizing the Low Road: Economic Development in Baltimore

by Kate Davis and Chauna Brocht
Published: September, 2002

An analysis of Baltimore's economic development efforts reveals a history of high costs, low benefits, and a lack of safeguards to ensure that taxpayer investments really pay off in family-wage jobs.

No More Secret Candy Store: A Grassroots Guide to Investigating Development Subsidies

by Good Jobs First
Published: March, 2002

A comprehensive guide to researching state and local subsidies, economic development agencies, and companies.

Jail Breaks: Economic Development Subsidies Given to Private Prisons

by Phil Mattera and Mafruza Khan
Published: October, 2001

The first study to catalog state and local economic development subsidies given to private prisons.

Talking to Union Leaders About Smart Growth

by Greg LeRoy
Published: January, 2001

A hands-on tool to help smart growth activists reach out to union leaders based on working-families' self-interest.

Minding the Candy Store: State Audits of Economic Development

by Sara Hinkley and Fiona Hsu
Published: September, 2000

A comprehensive summary and database of 122 state performance audits of economic development programs of the last decade.

Smart Growth and Workforce Development

by Greg LeRoy and Sara Hinkley
Published: June, 2000

How suburban sprawl reduces opportunity for low-skill workers and contributes to the geographic concentration of poverty, and how smart growth policies could reverse those trends.

Another Way Sprawl Happens: Economic Development Subsidies in a Twin Cities Suburb

by Greg LeRoy and Sara Hinkley
Published: January, 2000

A case study of a fringe-suburban industrial park that used tax increment financing to lure 29 companies, relocating 1,600 jobs mostly away from the urban core. Includes impact analyses based on race, poverty, welfare and transit access.

Economic Development in Minnesota: High Subsidies, Low Wages, Absent Standards

by Greg LeRoy and Tyson Slocum
Published: February, 1999

An analysis of 525 economic development deals made possible by Minnesota's first-in-the-nation subsidy disclosure law, which found almost half the subsidized companies paying 20% or more below-market wages.

No More Candy Store: States and Cities Making Job Subsidies Accountable

by Greg LeRoy

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.