New York is not shy about its generosity. The state's economic development arm, Empire State Development, lists as its mission the promotion of a "vigorous and growing" state economy "through the efficient use of loans, grants, tax credits, real estate development, marketing and other forms of assistance."
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The "efficient" part is the subject of plenty of debate in New York and every other state. For now, it seems the subsidies—and the businesses that receive them—are winning.
"This is the dark side of the war among the states," said Good Jobs First Executive Director Greg LeRoy, who has been tracking the subsidies for more than 30 years. And he added that things are not getting any brighter.
While the number of deals sought by businesses began declining before the Great Recession and remains depressed, the assistance being offered by states is going up. The result, LeRoy said, is that a relatively small number of companies have increasing leverage, and "they're taking it to the bank."
That is especially evident when it comes to what Good Jobs First calls "megadeals," worth $75 million or more. Since 2008, the group said, the number of giant awards per year has more than doubled from the previous decade. They include the record $8.7 billion that Washington state awarded to Boeing in 2013.