Five Subsidy Stories You Might Have Missed This Week


1. The New York State Senate held a hearing on business subsidies last week, and it was a smashing success. Experts such as Tim Bartik, Marilyn M. Rubin, and Heywood Sanders explained to lawmakers in detail why business subsidies are bad policy (read our testimony here). The hearing was held upon request by Reinvent Albany and five other groups. A big theme was that NYS needs a Database of Deals because there is just not enough usable data about the $5B the state spends on subsidies.

Read the Niagara Gazette’s reporting on the hearing here. (And thanks to Senators Krueger, Kaplan and Skoufis for holding the hearing!)

Under questioning from Skoufis, Hope Knight, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s nominee to be president of Empire State Development, said her agency lacks investigators to verify the claims made by applicants for incentives … Skoufis responded: “I encourage you that maybe you should get investigators because these companies lie all the time, in my experience, to get benefits that they don’t deserve.”

2. At least one member of Congress is taking a closer look at Opportunity Zones (ProPublica). Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) mentioned ProPublica’s great reporting on OZs in a recent letter to developers purportedly taking advantage of the program.

“It appears that the Opportunity Zone program is already helping subsidize luxury real estate development by wealthy developers, and in many cases will allow these investors to realize the gains on their investments completely tax-free,” Wyden wrote. “Among the investments that have reportedly qualified for these generous tax breaks, are projects that include luxury apartment buildings and hotels, high-end office towers, self-storage facilities and a ‘superyacht marina.’”

3. Over the holiday, the state published excerpts of the Bills-commissioned report on a new stadium, and what they revealed wasn’t pretty – such as that building in the city of Buffalo rated higher than a new Orchard Park stadium, contradicting the Pegulas’ insistence that Orchard Park is superior. Read more in Rod Watson’s op-ed in the Buffalo News:

And that’s the real tragedy here … A new stadium in the wrong location will last for decades, which is bad enough … The erosion of public confidence may last even longer.

4. New Yorkers pay millions for the current Buffalo Bills stadium every year. The Investigative Post’s Mark Scheer dives into how this happened and what it has cost.

“It really is going to come down to whether the elected officials who are negotiating this are more interested in getting a good deal or just in getting a deal,” [Neil] deMause said.

5. At Boondoggle, Pat Garofalo does a great preview of how state legislatures will tackle corporate welfare this year, including three of Reinvent Albany’s issues: incentive reform, banning NDAs, and film/TV tax credits (thanks for the shout-out, Pat!).

… The film tax credit subsidy war is not slowing down, with two of the major players, California and New York, very much working to ensure they’ll be spending hundreds of millions of dollars subsidizing films every year forever, and other states getting ready to pile in.

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!