GE to state: Give us money or these jobs buy it

Mike the Mad Biologist considers GE's effort to blackmail the state - give us $25 million or else. At first, it sounds kind of similar to Liberty Mutual's successful effort to wring tax breaks out of Boston and the state for its new headquarters building on the edge of the Back Bay. But Liberty Mutual at least is giving the city a new tower that will, ultimately, supposedly mean more tax revenue, while GE's argument seems to be: Give it to us because we want it. Plus, Liberty Mutual never threatened to fire people or shut its Boston operations if it didn't get the breaks.

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This is why the state should

This is why the state should have never gotten into the business of giving away targeted tax breaks to specific industries. It would have made sense to have cut taxes for all businesses, from the smallest mom & pop to the largest international mega corp, in the state a percentage point rather than have targeted giveaways to the connected. Think of how many more jobs and businesses the state would have kept; an across the board half percent tax cut, to every business in the state, versus handing out billions to a favored company here and there.

Hate to say it

But every state is playing this game. Tax abatements are state and local governments' favorite carrot. If Mass held a hard line on them, businesses would just jump ship and go where the freebies are. An across-the-board tax cut isn't enough to draw the larger businesses and drains the state's coffers for little return. Targeted abatements, while loathsome, both bring and keep jobs. Ask Stamford and Jersey City why they have huge exchange floors in their cities and Boston doesn't. Those breaks are a big part of the reason.

Bye Bye!

This is NOT cost effective economic development. I have yet to see a single analysis of these incentives and perks that demonstrates that the economic gains of these handouts are ever worth the costs of them. Handouts are given out of fear and typically yield few if any tangible and accountable benefits.

I dare you to come up with some scholarly evidence that says otherwise - and enough of it in context of the body of evidence to demonstrate a clear pattern. Good luck.

This is extortion and corporate welfare. Good bye and good riddance. That money can be much better spent to preserve or create more jobs elsewhere.

Don't know about CT

But NJ is effectively broke and we are not far from it. Mass has probably the best educated workforce, healthiest population, best public education system (imagine if we could ever fix BPS and a couple of other city systems), phenomenal health care, a very reasonable climate 9 months out of the year (and Jet Blue the other 3 months), quick access to some of the most beautiful shoreline and mountains this side of the Mississippi and more.

Sure we have our problems as I and others out here opine about regularly, but rather than competing on price - which we will never be able to do, why don't we start selling on the positives. If you are a business dependent on smart, creative employees - would you want to locate your employee's families in Boston/Mass or Jersey City?

Relative to most other places in this country, we are still a premium product but we market ourselves like a commodity.

Case in point - just went to CNN Money and found this - Mass ranked #1 in position to take advantage of the "new economy":

http://money.cnn.com/2010/11/18/smallbusiness/job_...

Roger that, and amen, brother/sister

More people out to be asking the question, if everything sucks so badly here, why do more than 6 million people call a very small space home (one day, I will get to ask Mitt Romney this question, as I wanted to when he was talking Massachusetts down during his run for the nomination in '08)?

I second everything that you said, excepting the 3 month thing. I'm presuming that the three months you are referring to are the winter ones, and my response to that is that people who hate the winter here don't know how to ski or ride a snowboard. I think the only month that is a true drag around here is April.

two months, really

Noted bicycle advocate Sheldon Brown used to say that bicycle commuting in greater Boston worked well except for two months out of the year. July and August were simply too hot.

I don't agree--as a Philly-area transplant, I'm most comfortable when Bostonians are complaining about how hot it is, and I *hate* the cold and snow. But I can see his point.

Bills of attainder

Article I, Section 9 was written as a means to separate judicial/ legislative powers, and ensure due process. Tax breaks are not covered by either.

Being able to pass positive legislation, bills that allow for someone to get something specifically targeted at them, is a great ability to have. You can get an act of Congress that bestows full citizenship on refugee, or something to that effect. Unfortunately that power can also lead to abuses along the way. A bill of attainder on the other hand, undermines ones rights by edict and is abusive by its very definition.

"We declare you worthy of X, Y and Z" is very different from "We find it necessary to limit your rights / find you guilty of X crime because we feel like it."