• State and local governments have begun disclosing information about tax abatement agreements in their Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs) to comply with GASB 77.* Good Jobs First is tracking disclosed data on its website via Subsidy Tracker 2, a free and searchable database. We offer three takeaways after spending some time with the data and Good Jobs First's GASB 77 Coordinator, Scott Klinger.  1. Nearly $9.4 billion in FY17 tax abatements/revenue reductions have been disclosed. 33 states have reported revenue losses of approximately $5 billion. New York state accounts for $1.2 billion or...

  • Economic development professionals and policymakers want to know which of their programs work best. However, a lack of data thwarts many state and local efforts to quantify incentive outcomes, hindering program evaluations.  State administrative data that is already collected from businesses -- such as tax and workforce information -- is a potential resource that can be used to conduct these evaluations.   To figure out how to use this resource, the National Governors Association teamed with the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness to offer a webinar on "State Data Sharing to Support Economic and...

  • If you are thinking about how to deploy a dashboard for your economic development organization, take a good look at the new Performance Metrics platform from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD). Dashboards like this are a popular way to share information on government program performance. Economic development organizations are increasingly developing their own dashboards or transparency portals to provide better data on incentive use and program outcomes. The TNECD Performance Metrics platform’s purpose, according to COO Ted Townsend, is to “serve as a valuable resource for...

  • Data sharing has the potential to change the way states manage incentive program compliance and evaluation efforts. Data sharing “is a formal process by which state agencies that collect and manage administrative records, such as corporate income tax and unemployment insurance records, may grant other government agencies and outside researchers access to microdata within those records to support authorized activities.” The Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC) has created the State Data Sharing Initiative to identify ways that economic and workforce development programs can safely and securely access administrative data...

  • Economic development leaders gathered recently to consider the implications of forthcoming tax abatement disclosures. While considering tax abatement disclosure guidelines in relation to our work as economic developers and the nuts and bolts of reporting and compliance, we spent most of our time on communication - specifically how best to talk to colleagues, elected officials and the public about disclosed data. From the Smart Incentives perspective, we suggest the following: Do now Communicate with government finance staff and/or budgetary officials to share data Consider how multiple stakeholders will use and react to the disclosed...

  • We are going back to basics this week. I recently presented a workshop on incentives at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College focused on balancing the need to maximize economic outcomes with the judicious and transparent use of public funds. Among the takeaways: Incentive Basics and Trends Incentives are tools that help us achieve our community’s economic development goals. Smart incentive use is not just about winning a deal. Lines are blurring between traditional business incentives and development finance programs. Tax credits are the largest single category of state incentive, but...