Remember? We went down this same road with a certain other mega-corporation. It didn’t work out so well for us.
Late last month, Boeing quietly posted its jobs numbers for this state. It didn’t get much coverage, as Boeing made no announcement. But The Seattle Times’ aerospace reporter noted on Twitter that the day nevertheless marked a “dismal milestone”:
“20,000 local jobs cut in 5 years,” he summed up.
That’s 23 percent of its Puget Sound workforce, gone.
More notably for the purposes of this column, Boeing has slashed 16,684 jobs since that giddy three-day weekend back in 2013, when state lawmakers rushed into a special session and rushed out the largest state-tax subsidy to a private company in American history.
Amazon’s HQ & HQ2
Huzzah! So not only are we the biggest when it comes to corporate welfare. It turns out we’re also the worst when it comes to cutting a good deal.
I bring up this history now because a) it’s exactly the type of thing local politicians were hoping might slip our collective minds, and b) it’s now looking as if our record-setting giveaway to Boeing may not be No. 1 much longer.
The state of New Jersey has offered $5 billion in tax breaks for Amazon’s new headquarters. (“Are we giving away the store to get the store?” one Jersey paper asked.)
That’s still less than the $8.7 billion we gave Boeing. But it’s only an opening offer, from one state. The national prostrating sweepstakes for Amazon’s HQ2 seems destined to end up much higher.
“Whatever it takes,” was how one mayor, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, sized up his limit.
To which the only logical follow-up is: How much you got?
Wisconsin is giving Foxconn, a Taiwanese corporation, $3 billion, or an estimated $300,000 per job, for a flat-screen TV plant there.
At that rate, for Amazon’s promised 50,000 jobs, some state would have to pay an incredible $15 billion. That’s more than the entire annual general-fund budget for 32 of the states!
We may be joining the bidding party. In a vague proposal released Thursday by King County, each Puget Sound city “will have the opportunity to provide a particular package of opportunities and incentives” to Amazon. The state wasn’t mentioned, but to compete it would almost certainly have to rush out another tax-break package rivaling New Jersey’s.
Illustrating the absurdity of this civic arms race, an Atlanta suburb upped our ante…