Five Subsidy Stories You Might Have Missed This Week


1. The Buffalo Bills owners want $1.4 billion from taxpayers for a new stadium, so what does soon-to-be Governor Kathy Hochul think? In an August 11th interview with the Buffalo News, the current Lieutenant Governor said the stadium is one of her top priorities. 

Q: Governor Cuomo was never central to any talks about the future of the Buffalo Bills stadium. Do you plan to be, and do you have any initial thoughts on what the Pegulas have been floating about a publicly financed stadium of more than $1 billion?

[Hochul:] I will assemble a team of very knowledgeable people and skilled negotiators, as well as work with the legislature on this. This would require funding from the State Legislature, and I’ve already heard from a number of legislators who want to be involved in that.

So, it’ll be a collaborative approach to getting to the result which is smart for the taxpayers, but also ensures the longevity of the Buffalo Bills. That is a high priority of mine: the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo.

2. Hochul also chairs the state’s Regional Economic Development Council competition – and will likely have to pass the reins (Albany Business Review). (See our previous writeup on REDCs – “New York’s subsidy game show” – here).

Instead of announcing all of the projects during a large event in December, $150 million in grants from Empire State Development will be available to fund certain projects on a rolling competitive basis throughout the round. That scenario was going to create lots of opportunities for Cuomo to come out, shake hands and tout the state’s economic recovery over the next few months. […] It stands to see how the program will play out now — the deadline for applications was July 30. Hochul was chair of the REDC during her time as lieutenant governor, kicking off the program in each of the 10 regions.

3. Hooray for Hollywood! California is racing New York to the bottom by pouring $330 million more into film/TV tax subsidies (The City). California currently spends the same number annually, while NYS government spends more than $420 million on handouts to Film/TV productions, the bulk of it in New York City. Reminder: There’s little evidence that these subsidies actually help stimulate economies.

The biggest threat to New York likely comes from California. Last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill providing $150 million in tax credits aimed at promoting the construction of new soundstages and $90 million a year for the next two years to lure TV shows from other states, as well as to subsidize shows that have already relocated.

4. 2020 was not the year for big tax incentives in NY State – likely due to the pandemic (Albany Business Review).

For example, last year’s List was topped by state funding for the Cree factory in Utica, an incentive worth up to $500 million […] By comparison, this year’s List, No. 1 through No. 25, comes in at $434 million in total potential incentives.

5. At Boondoggle, Pat Garofalo explains how tax breaks do nothing to fix food deserts.

Elected leaders at all levels of government have collectively spent hundreds of millions of dollars on grocery store incentives. These programs suffer from the same problems as most other corporate giveaways: Most of the time, they’re incentivizing actions that would have happened anyway. A study of the federal New Market Tax Credit found that 70 percent of grocers that used it to open in a food desert would have done so even in the absence of subsidies. That’s just wasted money that could be better used on other poverty reducing measures.

If you got this from a friend, sign up here. Subsidy Sheet is written by Tom Speaker, Policy Analyst at Reinvent Albany. Please send questions and tips to tom [at] We look forward to hearing from you!