Tax breaks don't equal job growth.
That's the conclusion of Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, at least when it comes to the state's patchwork of industrial development agencies in a yearly report out today.
Stay with me here. It gets a little technical — or, rather, boring.
"An analysis by county of net tax exemptions provided by IDAs and of job growth does not indicate a positive correlation between the two."
So, in English, that means that when IDAs give tax breaks, jobs don't come a'knockin'.
A core conservative principle equates tax breaks with job growth. But then again, this conclusion is not necessarily evidence to the contrary. I'm sure that many true conservatives wouldn't want industrial development agencies — tools of the state — deciding the winners and losers. So there's an out for our friends on the right.
For his part, Mr. DiNapoli's office believes that the lack of job windfalls from tax breaks means that IDA projects should provide more data so they can be more easily tracked. That way, they're taking a targeted approach to economic development, rather than just making it rain.
Here are some raw figures from the report, in the fiscal years of 2009 — which the indefatigable Nancy Madsen will do a much better job of synthesizing for tomorrow's paper.
The county's industrial development agency gave $1.5 million in tax exemptions, and received about $400,000 in payments in lieu of taxes, for a net of $1.1 million in money that was taken off the tax rolls. With that, the county saw a 1,233 net job change. Each job came at a price tag of $892 for Jefferson County taxpayers.
The county's industrial development agency took $214,466 off its tax rolls to help create a net job change of 102. That leaves a $2,103 price tag for each job.
St. Lawrence County
The county was the most frugal, only taking $97,560 of its tax rolls to create a net 690 jobs. That's $141 for each job created.