Five Subsidy Stories You Might Have Missed This Week


1. Monroe County’s IDA, by a 4-3 vote, just approved Amazon’s request to waive the requirement that the company hire local workers (Rochester First). Two weeks ago, we wrote about how Rochester schools suffer while Amazon gets $150 million in subsidies across the river.

“They can bring people in our area and that don’t make the wages and benefits that we don’t make and that’s not fair when they’re getting tax breaks to do the work,” President of Building and Construction Trade Council Grant Malone said.

2. Niagara County’s IDA just gave tax breaks to four projects — and for one, the company won’t even have to create any jobs. They’ll get a million dollars just to retain 16 jobs (Buffalo News).

The $1 million project will retain 16 jobs but won’t create any new ones, and the incentives will save the company $178,000 over 10 years.

3. At Boondoggle, Pat Garofalo writes about mayoral candidate Andrew Yang’s transformation from subsidy foe to subsidy friend.

Yang watering down his position to render it meaningless is a perfect example of how corporate handouts warp our politics. Someone who has thought about the problem and clearly knows better still feels compelled to at least nod in the direction of outsized handouts out of electoral necessity.

4. Assemblymember Emily Gallagher and State Senator Brad Hoylman have introduced a bill to audit projects receiving the 421-a tax break (The Real Deal).

“I think there is an opportunity to potentially pass it because I think many share the urgency of it,” said Gallagher. “You can’t really argue with information gathering… especially around fraud with our taxpayers’ money.”

5. Opportunity Zones census tracts won’t be expanded after all! High-five to Noah Buhayar and Lydia O’Neal at Bloomberg for their world-class reporting on this (and don’t miss our own write-up on the story here).

The [Biden] administration “would be hard-pressed to say the boundaries would be expanded without saying they should be shrunk where they were shrunk,” he added. “In politics, it’s very tough to take away benefits.”

And of course, don’t miss our write-up this week on Regional Economic Development Councils, New York’s subsidy game show.

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