Should your tax money be spent to pay for business to move here?
If you listen to political sources and the Chamber of Commerce, they would all say “Yes!”
Why? “It’s good for business.” “To help Volusia County grow and get more revenue!”
But the reality is much different.
There are two simple ways to check whether incentives work. You can use simple logic in your own community or you can accept what independent researchers have found.
Let’s look at logic, first.
It’s very simple. If Volusia is giving tax credits (essentially giving away your tax money), we should see one or more of these principles in action:
-Taxes lowered because of new income from added business. Have you seen that?
-Surplus of tax money because of all the new revenue. Have you seen that?
-Better infrastructure, easier driving, better roads, fully staffed emergency services, and lower percentage of those who need assistance because the business moved here with tax credit assistance. Have you seen that?
I haven’t seen any of that. Quite the opposite. What we have seen is more taxes every year in one form or another, no surplus, and more people dependent on Volusia County taxpayers. Could this ‘incentives help everyone’ be a myth?
It reminds me of a story. Dan S. Kennedy was asked about a popular myth running around business circles for years. “What you think about the most is what you will become” was the easy new leadership concept. ‘If you aspire to become rich, have cars, have success in business, that’s what will happen if that’s what you always think about’ is how the easy-to-believe concept went. Seemed like a good thing so no one questioned it.
When asked about his position on this, Kennedy quickly used simple logic so show how goofy this thinking really was. “If ‘what I think about the most is what I will become’ were really true, I would be a big bosomed, long legged blond!”
The myth is dispelled with simple logic. Sometimes simple logic beats all the fancy hopes, dreams, and stories passed around the table… including political tables.
The second option is to look at the results of independent studies about business incentives. How does the math work out here?
You can read this long and intense report (see the link below), or you can skip to this myth-busting summary:
It is possible that incentives do induce significant new growth, that the beneficiaries of that growth are mainly those who have greatest difficulty in the labor market, and that both states and local governments benefit fiscally from that growth. But after decades of policy experimentation and literally hundreds of scholarly studies, none of these claims is clearly substantiated. Indeed, as we have argued in this article, there is a good chance that all of these claims are false. Journal of the American Planning Association, the Failures of Economic Development Incentives by Peters and Fisher
You can see the full report at https://www.mackinac.org/archives/2009/nr043009-petersfisher.pdf
Will Volusia spend your tax money, without your permission, to do something every expert says doesn’t work?
My position: Whether you believe the independent experts or your own simple logic, there is no reason to be paying highly profitable businesses tax incentives. Moving to Volusia County, with its abundance of affordable real estate, warm waters and weather, reliable work force, one State College and three nationally recognized Universities, The St. Johns River, and DeLand-America’s Best Downtown are incentive enough.
Elect me as your representative for Volusia County and let's start spending our tax dollars on the services, roads, and infrastructure we need instead of handing it out as favors to the campaign contributors. They won’t be financing my campaign. I could use your help if you want to change the culture of our County.