Subsidy Sheet: New York IDAs draining $1.8B a year from public schools


This week, legislators, unions, watchdogs, and faith groups gathered at the Capitol to support a state bill to stop Industrial Development Agencies from draining $1.8 billion a year in local revenues that could be going to public schools. New York’s 108 IDAs are starving schools by giving huge tax breaks to corporations that research shows do not base their job siting decisions on tax breaks. At the June 6th press conference, the groups called on the legislature to pass, and for the governor to sign, S89 (Ryan)/A351 (Bronson), a bill that would prohibit IDAs from abating taxes that would otherwise go to our schools. 

In the waning hours of session, it’s clear that the bill won’t be passing this year. But why? Why do New York’s Democrats – who have a supermajority in both the State Senate and Assembly –  refuse to take a stand against the utterly wasteful and totally debunked IDAs? 

There is a mountain of rigorous, independent research showing that IDA tax abatements and other corporate giveaways do not work. It’s time for Democrats to accept the reality that their failed economic development programs will not make our state better off. Real investment in public services like education, transit, and clean water infrastructure are clearly superior uses of taxpayer dollars. We prefer more public investment, but at the very least the state and local governments should make all businesses and industries pay a fair share instead of doling out politicized tax breaks for the businesses with the best lobbyists and highest campaign contributions.

New York Corporate Giveaway News:

  • Assemblymember Jeff Dinowitz calls NY’s Opportunity Zone tax break a “boondoggle” in Bloomberg News. The Assemblymember sponsored a bill to end the tax break, which passed the State Senate but has not moved in the Assembly.
  • The taxpayer-funded stadium for the Buffalo Bills broke ground this week. The $850 million of taxpayer dollars pouring into the stadium was part of a deal pushed by Buffalo native Governor Hochul during the 11th hour of 2022 budget negotiations. 
  • Wholesale giant Costco is asking the Guilderland IDA for $2.1 million in tax exemptions to build a 163,000 square-foot store and gas station near Crossgates mall. Costco claims it won’t build without the subsidies, but Times Union’s Chris Churchill calls the threat what it is: a scam.
  • An India-based plastics manufacturer is looking to set up shop in Lockportbut they want $600,000 of taxpayer funds to do so. Without the corporate handouts, the company says it will take its business elsewhere.

Fun Fact: “The Emperor Has No Clothes” is not about bogus claims used to justify New York’s $10 billion a year in corporate handouts. It is an 1837 short story by Hans Christian Andersen. 

If you got this from a friend, sign up here. Subsidy Sheet is written by Elizabeth Marcello and edited by John Kaehny.