Apparently another interest group is claiming that Arizona is "missing out" on jobs in some critical growth industry, and therefore (wait for it) that industry must be subsidized to come to Arizona.
Arizona is getting its "clock cleaned" in the competition among
Western states to land solar-panel manufacturing companies within their
borders, according to the economic-development group that is losing the
At least nine companies that make solar equipment have passed up the
Valley of the Sun in the last year in favor of neighboring states,
according to the Greater Phoenix Economic Council.
From those nine projects alone, Arizona is missing out on more than 3,800 jobs, $2.3 billion in investment and $732 million in state and local revenues during the next decade, GPEC President and CEO Barry Broome said.
I am too tired to do my usual fact-checking on "incremental" state revenue numbers, but suffice it to say that $732 million in state and local tax revenues is a pipe dream. There are three or four million people in Phoenix -- why is it we need the government to focus on someone employing 3,800 people?
The article's main "logic" is that our sunny climate should attract solar panel manufacturers. Why? I know they're customers may be here, but since most panels today come to Arizona from Japan or Germany, I don't think shipping costs are a big deal for panels.
The proposal is for a transferable income tax credit and property tax relief. The author says the group is opposed to straight cash handouts, though. Uh, OK. And explain to me why a "transferable income tax credit" that the author says can be sold to other companies for cash is different than a cash handout?
I sometimes find it hard to identify the consistent element of what makes for a "desirable business" (ie deserving of such subsidies) vs. one that is not so deserving. The only consistent element I can find is that my business is always in the latter group, paying our taxes so that someone else's business and job can be subsidized. It is for this reason that I generally barf when some group cries that they are not recieving equal proection (ala the 14th ammendment). Take on tax and subsidy policy that takes from one group to fund another more politically connected group, and then talk to me about equal protection.
Postscript: Here are the favored industries I can remember in the news of late in Arizona for getting special tax treatment:
Rock and Roll themed amusement park
Solar panel manufacturing
New shopping mall parking lot
Spring training baseball parks
Readers are encouraged to add others in the comments.
Another Thought: I would dearly love to see a solar panel technology that can be rolled out of the factory cheaply in sheets like carpet out of Dalton, Georgia. However, while I am increasingly convinced that someone is going to invent that technology soon, that technology will not be related to traditional silicon fabrication methods. Therefore, nearly all of the plants that Arizona is desperately trying to subsidize to move here are likely using dead-end technologies, driven in part by bubble economics and subsidies that are not sustainable as the market grows (see ethanol). Current silicon and germanium panels make no economic sense anywhere, and survive only due to massive (50% subsidies) and a desire to make a token green statement.
I am sure our local paper was cheerleading for ethanol plants in years past, and it is good we did not subsidize many here, because they are failing all over. And I can't prove it, but I wouldn't be a bit surprised that one of the reasons our local semiconductor manufacturing operations have shrunk is because of this same effect, with subsidies attracting the least, not the most, viable enterprises.