Three Subsidy Stories You Might Have Missed This Week


1. The state published its analysis of the costs of building a new Buffalo Bills stadium, which may total $1.4 billion (Associated Press). One noteworthy finding: A new stadium would bring more money to the Bills but generate very little economic activity or new state or local tax revenue. Reinvent Albany will have more commentary in the coming days.

Paul Wolf at the New York Coalition for Open Government also opines in The Buffalo News about why the state needs to release a separate report commissioned by the Buffalo Bills, which will likely factor into the final decision:

Government officials and the Pegulas are able to view both stadium studies, while the public, who will subsidize a large amount of the stadium cost, is being left in the dark. Several hundred million dollars of taxpayer money should not be negotiated behind closed doors and then presented for approval as a fair deal.

2. At Boondoggle, Pat Garofalo writes about how Google has tried to hide the water usage of the company’s Oregon data centers, which receive millions in subsidies. The strategy has been to classify Google’s water usage as a “trade secret,” keeping the public from finding out what it’s actually paying for.

So Google demands secrecy as a condition of its investment and pliant politicians and utility officials go along with it in the name of job creation (even though data centers don’t actually create many jobs at all). In this case, that means a cynical lawsuit to push disclosure past when having the numbers out in public could affect the political debate.

3. Surprise! Another study finds that Opportunity Zones deliver little to no benefit to communities (Journal of Urban Economics). 

We leverage restricted-access microdata from the American Community Survey and employ a matching approach to estimate causal reduced-form effects of the program. Our results point to little or no evidence of positive effects of the Opportunity Zone program on the employment, earnings, or poverty of zone residents.

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!