State gives tax breaks to Google, all stimulus-response like

nevada economic policy
CC BY-SA 4.0 from Wikimedia Commons
nevada economic policy
CC BY-SA 4.0 from Wikimedia Commons

If Google hires 50 people in Henderson by the end of 2023, great. If Google spends $600 million on its Henderson server farm or warehouse silo or whatever it is over the next 10 years, fine. And if Google’s foray into Henderson generates nearly $94 million in tax revenue over 20 years, peachy.

Those are some of the numbers identified in an agenda item approved by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) Thursday.

Another number in that packet is $25,237,000. A paltry sum, perhaps, relative to the other big Google-style numbers. But that’s the amount that state and local governments will lose over 20 years thanks to the tax abatements GOED approved for Google.

Ah, but  there wouldn’t be any yummy Google tax revenue at all if Google didn’t build it’s big beautiful wall after wall of servers in Henderson, or so the argument goes.

That argument assumes that Google — Google! — wouldn’t build it’s supercalifragilistic techy-techy barn in Henderson unless Nevada forks over $25 million in tax abatements. Over 20 years.

As if that — and not location or overall tax structure or the weather or power supply or any number of other things — is the key, determining factor that prompted Google — Google! — to stack machines in racks in Henderson.

Google’s market capitalization — its worth on the stock market — is nearly three quarters of one trillion American dollars. Google’s revenues in 2017 were $111 billion – roughly 20 times the size of Nevada’s current fiscal year budget.

Twenty-five million dollars means much more to Nevada than it does to Google.

States, and not just Nevada, have surrendered unconditionally to corporations, granting tax breaks automatically. Unquestioningly. Unthinkingly. Everyone does it, so everyone has to do it. That’s the “policy analysis” behind corporate giveaways. Meantime, there is scant evidence anywhere in the country that any of these routinely bestowed goodies are the reason corporations put stuff one place and not the other.

But state and local governments dole out the goodies anyway, demeaning themselves and their citizenries. And insulting them, too, by pretending that “everybody does it” is not only economic policy, but innovative economic policy.

Everyone involved in this ongoing policy farce should be ashamed of themselves.

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson has been writing about Nevada policy and politics for more than 20 years. He was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and wrote the then-groundbreaking Las Vegas Gleaner, which among other things was the only independent political blog from Nevada that was credentialed at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He spent a few years as a senior energy and environmental policy analyst for Public Citizen, and has occasionally worked as a consultant on mining, taxation, education and other issues for Nevada labor and public interest organizations. His freelance work has been published in outlets ranging from the Guardian to Desert Companion to In These Times to the Oil & Gas Journal. For several years he also taught U.S. History courses at UNLV. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and then assistant managing editor at the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming’s largest newspaper.

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