Public Assets Institute > Press > Press Releases > Vermont Should Reveal More About Business Subsidies

Vermont Should Reveal More About Business Subsidies

New report grades the 50 states on transparency

December 9, 2010

MONTPELIER –Over the past decade Vermont has spent tens of millions of dollars in state tax revenue to subsidize businesses—state and local tax breaks, cash grants, government-financed infrastructure, and other help in exchange for job creation. Yet taxpayers do not know much about what they’ve gotten for their money.

A new report released today by Good Jobs First, a non-profit, non-partisan research center based in Washington, DC, seeks to increase the transparency of business subsidies in Vermont and throughout the country.

“This report is especially important now as Vermont’s elected officials are making tough choices about state spending and revenues,” said Public Assets Institute President Paul Cillo. “There needs to be better public accountability about business subsidies so that Vermonters can know what they’re getting for their money and whether the money might be better spent on other things.”

Online disclosure of the names of companies receiving such government help is becoming the norm around the country. But the quality of the reporting varies widely, and about a dozen states still keep taxpayers in the dark, says the report, Show Us the Subsidies.

The report ranks the 50 states for state disclosure of subsidy information. Vermont is number 13. But that’s not saying much: Nationwide, transparency on this matter is not very good.

“Our findings tell two different stories,” said Good Jobs First Executive Director Greg LeRoy. “The first is one of the steady spread of transparency across the nation. The other is that some states still inexplicably keep taxpayers completely or partially in the dark. The accountability movement has made great advances but still has a long way to go before job subsidies are as transparent as other categories of state spending, such as procurement.”

Show Us the Subsidies bases its ratings of state disclosure programs on the inclusion of information such as company-specific dollar amounts, number of jobs created, and wages of workers in those jobs. The accessibility of the online data is also considered. The average of these factors is expressed in a number from 1 to 100.

Coming in at the top were Illinois (82), Wisconsin (71), North Carolina (69), and Ohio (66). Vermont received a score of 39.

In addition to the report, Good Jobs First released two new online tools relating to state government economic development practices: Subsidy Tracker, a searchable database that brings together subsidy recipient information from numerous state governments; and Accountable USA, a set of web pages on each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia summarizing their track record on subsidies. All these resources are available at no cost on the Good Jobs First website:

Show Us the Subsidies is available at the Public Assets Institute website.


Public Assets Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that researches and analyzes Vermont fiscal policy.

Good Jobs First is a national policy resource center for grassroots groups and public officials, promoting corporate and government accountability in economic development and smart growth for working families.

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