Thanks to Goldy over at The Stranger Slog for the alert to the three-part series at the NY Times about the $80B a year in subsidies states give to businesses. From his piece:
The Times has also included a handy little interactive
database that allows you to explore these incentive programs state by
state. For example, Washington
State taxpayers spend $2.35 billion a year on incentive programs.
That's roughly 15 cents per state budget dollar, or $349 for every man,
woman, and child in the state. Imagine how different our education
funding debate might look if our state had an extra $2.35 billion a year
to spend on schools?
As Hallmark CEO Donald J. Hall Jr., put it it about the
budget-depleting subsidy border war between Kansas and Missouri: “If
you’re looking at the competitiveness of a region, the most important
thing a region can do is to focus on education. And this use of
incentives is really transferring money from education to businesses.” (bold his)
It takes only a simple majority vote to grant a tax exemption or
credit in Washington, but under current state law a two-thirds
supermajority to repeal one, no matter how nonproductive. Not that we'd
know if a subsidy was nonproductive. Every legislative effort to sunset
exemptions or subject them to performance audits has been crushed in
Olympia. So we're flying blind. And that's just plain stupid.