Now here's a form of government welfare that really gets my dander up, whatever a dander is.
Industrial Development Agencies, or IDAs, are supposed to help attract business to certain towns or regions. It's hard to argue with that as a concept, since helping companies start up or expand seems like a good idea. But there's a problem with it.
It was highlighted nicely in today's Buffalo News. You can read the story here. Go ahead, I'll wait.
I know, you might not have read the whole thing, but that's fine. You get the idea. We're spending thousands and thousands of dollars to provide tax breaks for companies that provide very few jobs or simply are moving from one town in Western New York to another. It's not even a zero-sum game, it's less than that, since money comes out of the general pot.
It's part of a general problem. Politicians love to say they are helping to create jobs in their district/town/state. So they are anxious to throw tax breaks at new companies. The problem is, this does absolutely nothing for existing taxpayers who are simply moving along from day to day. I can't blame firms for asking, but it all seems quite unfair.
I once talked to a state government employee about the situation. She said there would be far fewer such tax breaks for companies if politicians didn't send out constituent newsletters. How often have you seen such a mailing, complete with Senator Glenn Locke with a shovel and the headline "Locke brings jobs to our state"? I know, you'll have to use your imagination to ponder the concept of Senator Locke if you know him personally or read his blog, but that's OK.
Is it too much to ask to have a level playing field in our tax policy? Sometimes it seems to be.
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