Let’s Prioritize Communities, Not the World’s Richest Man
Elected leaders in Northern Virginia are rushing to give away an unknown amount of taxpayer money to the world’s richest man and one of the world’s wealthiest companies in an effort to bring Amazon’s “HQ2” here.
Our state and local governments have signed non-disclosure agreements with Amazon, preventing residents from even knowing what is being offered with their tax dollars.
In a region with little affordable housing, where housing is already more expensive than major tech hubs like Austin, TX, our leaders are clamoring to bring in up to 50,000 new, likely affluent residents, without any conversation about the impact on longtime residents. And these longtime residents aren’t even allowed to know what’s being offered!
Our public money could be used to fund our housing, our schools, our transit, and our own communities. Virginia leaders should end their participation in this race to the bottom and release the full details of the Amazon bid including the subsidies offered.
What could we do with $1 billion?
The governor and local leaders have blocked us from knowing how much money Virginia is offering to funnel to Amazon, but we do know what other cities have offered. Washington DC and Atlanta have offered as much as $1 billion. Chicago has offered $2 billion. Newark has offered as much as $7 billion in tax credits.1
What could we do with $1 billion instead of giving it away to the world’s richest man?
What are we giving away to one of the world’s richest companies?
We don’t know!
Virginia officials have offered the public no details on any proposed Amazon subsidies. The people who will actually be affected by the cost of living increases and diverted public funds aren’t even allowed to know what we’ll be giving up. Requests for details by concerned Virginians under the Freedom of Information Act are being ignored. If this is supposedly a good investment for Virginia, why aren’t its residents trusted to be a part of the process?
What we do know is that other cities competing to woo Amazon are offering the company huge tax subsidies, with some as high as multiple billions of dollars.
A broad array of research shows these tax subsidy packages are wasteful and don’t deliver. A study of megadeals found that cities pay nearly $500,000 per job created.2
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