Corporate welfare projects and celebratory press releases go together like peanut butter and jelly. For the most recent example in Pennsylvania, see the latest from the governor’s communications office:
Governor Tom Wolf announced today that Amazon will expand its presence in Pennsylvania and has committed to the creation of at least 5,000 new, full-time jobs statewide.
Wait for the kicker:
The company received a funding proposal from the Department of Community and Economic Development that includes a $5 million Pennsylvania First Program grant, $15 million in Job Creation Tax Credits to be distributed upon creation of the new jobs, and $2.25 million in WEDnetPA funding for employee training.
These stories, sadly, are commonplace in the commonwealth—the nation’s leader in corporate welfare. Rather than leveling the playing field for all businesses, Pennsylvania government picks winners and losers with a hodge-podge of grants, loans, and tax credits—often only available to well-connected firms with influential lobbyists.
Sure, 5,000 (promised) jobs will be terrific for Pennsylvanians lucky enough to land one. But what about the entrepreneurs competing with Amazon who won’t benefit from taxpayer-funded perks? Don’t hold your breath waiting for a follow-up press release.
See this CF Policy Brief for more on the costs of corporate welfare.
Relatedly, Amazon’s founder and CEO Jeff Bezos net worth was recently pegged at $65 billion. Whether they like it or not, Pennsylvania taxpayers are helping Bezos climb higher on the list of the richest people on Earth.
Bill Gates better not get comfortable at the top.