Besides granting natural gas drillers their every wish, the Corbett administration’s other signature economic strategy is blowing a bunch of taxpayer money in the Ripoff Game. And it looks like Harrisburg Republicans are gearing up for a high-stakes election-season round with the new Boeing factory.
The Ripoff Game works like this: a company like Boeing or Shell wants to own a large new production facility, but they don’t want to spend any money building it, so they ask states to give them a bunch of free money to build the factory. The state who offers them the most free money and infrastructure subsidies and tax breaks wins!
Except they don’t win:
But Boeing’s wish list for building a 777X factory is extremely ambitious. For example, they would like to build the factory in a city that will pay for the entire building of the factory, with the following three points listed as desirable:
— “Site at no cost, or very low cost, to project.”
— “Facilities at no cost, or significantly reduced cost.”
— “Infrastructure improvements provided by the location.”
As Matt Yglesias points out, this is basically the entire cost of the factory, and all the infrastructure supporting the factory. Also they don’t want to pay taxes.
There’s just no way the small number of jobs we’d get from this long term is worth all the money we’d lose on it. Remember the Shell cracker? Lawmakers thought even $2 billion wasn’t a generous enough subsidy, and they left it open-ended. We’re probably talking tens of thousands of tax dollars per job that we have no hope of making back in taxes. That is an extremely expensive campaign talking point.