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Biggest corporate subsidies of the last 20 years

  • Biggest corporate subsidies of the last 20 years

    Nearly every country has systems in place to economically support its citizens. Countries like Sweden and the United Kingdom have universal health care; the United States offers unemployment and social welfare benefits. In these cases, a nation's tax dollars go towards citizens in need. But what if that citizen in need is a corporation?

    A corporate subsidy takes place when a government agency offers cash grants, tax breaks, or other financial incentives to businesses. Those in favor might argue that the benefits—job creation, industry growth, financial investment in a community—are worth the price. Those who oppose corporate subsidies may refer to them as corporate welfare, a term meant to highlight the fact that corporations receive more government handouts than poor individuals, and might say that it's ineffective to give tax dollars (which could be going to schools, for example) to corporations with huge revenue streams. But regardless of where you may fall on this spectrum, it's a simple fact that corporate subsidies happen often enough to render them a key player in American economics—in fact, as of 2014, Fortune 500 companies alone had received about $60 billion in tax breaks.

    Stacker scoured data from Good Jobs First, a national policy resource center that promotes corporate accountability, in order to find the biggest corporate subsidies of that last 20 years. Together, these deals total approximately $73 billion dollars, with just three states accounting for nearly half of all the subsidies included: Louisiana ranks at the top with 11, then Michigan with seven, and finally New York, with five subsidies in two decades. This data is current as of 2019, though it's worth noting that some states did not provide data for each of the past 20 years, and some subsidies have undisclosed values. The subsidies are ranked in reverse order of their dollar value, and in the case of ties, the more recent subsidy is ranked higher.

    Without further adieu, read on to discover which corporations are most likely to cash a government check.

    You may also like: States that give the most corporate subsidies

  • #50. Louisiana: Sabine Pass Liquefaction, LLC

    - Subsidy value: $516.3 million
    - Year awarded: 2017
    - Funding source: local
    - Industry: oil & gas

    The Sabine Pass LNG (liquefied natural gas) terminal, an $18 billion project from parent company Cheniere Energy, has existed for several years, but just completed two substantial aspects of the site in 2017. In the same year, $516.3 million, from local sources, went towards property tax abatements for the company. The Sabine Project has had a major impact on the U.S.'s role in the oil and gas industry as a whole: U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas skyrocketed in 2018, a turn which is in large part due to the Sabine Pass' ability to export 2.8 billion cubic feet of LNG a day.

  • #49. United States: General Atomics

    - Subsidy value: $533.6 million
    - Year awarded: 2019
    - Funding source: federal
    - Industry: aerospace & military contracting

    Since the 1980s, General Atomics has manned and operated the DIII-D National Fusion Facility, a laboratory centered around the study of magnetic fusion, on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy. In the fiscal year 2019, the facility received a federal grant from the United States, which would allow for enhancements of the facilities, and therefore enable a wider range of experiments. The facility is located in San Diego, Calif.

  • #48. Florida: Scripps Research Institute

    - Subsidy value: $545 million
    - Year awarded: 2003
    - Funding source: multiple
    - Industry: biomedical research

    In 2003, then Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced that state and local funds, totaling in $545 million, would be put towards the creation of a biomedical research center. Scripps Research Institute is located in Palm Beach County, Fla., and the establishment of the institute was intended to further research in diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer's, enliven Florida's biotech industry as a whole, and ultimately create 50,000 jobs over the ensuing decade and a half. However, locals and journalists alike have argued that Bush's efforts were unsuccessful, as Florida's biotech industry has shown little signs of competing with that in hub cities like San Diego and Boston, despite the hefty financial aid.

  • #47. Kentucky: Clean Coal Power Operations

    - Subsidy value: $550 million
    - Year awarded: 2008
    - Funding source: state
    - Industry: power generation

    The term “clean coal” came into the public lexicon in 2008, as a way for coal industry officials to offer their own alternatives to ideas being proposed by climate change scientists. The method of creating “clean coal” is not strictly defined, but generally means that rather than allowing dangerous carbon dioxide to be released into the environment, clean coal facilities would bury it underground. This has not been a successful effort (a Mississippi facility had to give up the entire project once billions had already been spent), and though records exist of a $550 million subsidy from McCracken County, Ky., towards Clean Coal Power Operations in 2008, it seemingly became clear that the project would be too expensive to make this investment worth pursuing.

  • #46. Tennessee: Volkswagen

    - Subsidy value: $554 million
    - Year awarded: 2008
    - Funding source: multiple
    - Industry: motor vehicles

    In 2008, Volkswagen received a history making subsidy: The company received a total of $577 million, $554 million of which came from sources within the state, thus marking the largest amount American taxpayers had ever put towards a foreign automobile manufacturer. In exchange for this generous package, VW vowed that their Chattanooga, Tennessee plant would generate two thousand jobs. Each job would, therefore, cost the state a grand total of $288,500, but Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander shrugged off concerns about this high price, calling the subsidy an important step in Tennessee becoming “the #1 auto state in the country.”

  • #45. Oregon: Intel

    - Subsidy value: $579 million
    - Year awarded: 2005
    - Funding source: state
    - Industry: semiconductors

    The Strategic Investment Program (SIP), which allows big businesses to operate without paying property taxes on their production tools, was instituted in Oregon state in the early '90s as a way of enticing major manufacturers to settle there. Intel's 2005 SIP agreement was estimated to save the company a total of $579 million, due to a $25 billion tax exemption. The agreement does not require Intel to create any set amount of jobs, but even with the exemption, the company is still the largest taxpayer in Washington County.

  • #44. Minnesota: Mayo Clinic

    - Subsidy value: $585 million
    - Year awarded: 2013
    - Funding source: multiple
    - Industry: healthcare services

    Transforming a bill into a legislative reality is a herculean effort, and it is a rare feat that a bill directing $585 million taxpayer dollars to a corporation could be made a reality in less than one calendar year. However, this is precisely what happened in 2013, when the world-renown Mayo Clinic received a bundle of state funds in order to maintain and revamp its Minnesota campus. The medical center also pledged billions, from its own cash supply and as well as private investments, towards the massive renovations, which were intended to benefit both patients and the nearly 35,000 staff members who work there.

  • #43. United States: Ameren Energy

    - Subsidy value: $589.7 million
    - Year awarded: 2010
    - Funding source: federal
    - Industry: utilities

    In 2010, the United States Energy Department pledged $1 billion total towards FutureGen, a project designed to reduce carbon dioxide waste during coal production, with just under $590 million of this being funneled through Ameren Energy. These funds, which were provided from the ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009), would go towards decking out a power plant for carbon capture and storage. However, Ameren soon pulled out of the agreement, and though FutureGen officials still attempted to negotiate purchasing an Ameren power plant for the project location, FutureGen was ultimately suspended due to an inability to meet required deadlines.

  • #42. Mississippi: Continental Tire

    - Subsidy value: $595.5 million
    - Year awarded: 2016
    - Funding source: multiple
    - Industry: automotive parts-tires

    Continental AG, which was founded in Germany in 1871 and entered the American market in the 1980s through the purchase of a company called General Tire, is the fourth largest tire manufacturer in the world. What's more, it received the second largest corporate subsidy of 2016, with $595.5 million going towards the construction of a tire plant in Hinds County, Miss. Lawmakers estimated that the plant would generate 2,500 jobs, and though Continental Tire was set to receive additional benefits in the forms of property and income tax breaks, Mississippi officials have claimed the state will be in the black, with $220 million to spare, by 2040.

  • #41. New York: Pyramid Companies

    - Subsidy value: $600 million
    - Year awarded: 2002
    - Funding source: multiple
    - Industry: real estate

    The Pyramid Companies are responsible for the creation and maintenance of something that many '90s children cherished to their very core: malls. In 2002, the Pyramid Companies were granted $600 million in the form of tax breaks in order to convert a Syracuse Mall into “Destiny USA,” a complex that today includes retail stores, a hotel, and even a comedy club. However, it took longer than expected for this project to get underway, and Syracuse residents were angry that in 2006, the Pyramid Companies were claiming their tax benefits without having created the 40,000 jobs they had promised.

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