Guest Opinion: Gov. Cooper shouldn’t pick business winners and losers

Published 5:38 pm Thursday, May 20, 2021

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By the John Locke Foundation

North Carolina continues to show itself as a business-friendly state. Apple’s decision to open a campus in Research Triangle Park is yet another example of our state’s attractive economic climate, with our competitive corporate income tax rate and unparalleled pool of research talent.

Unfortunately, Gov. Roy Cooper has committed taxpayers to $875 million in incentives, over a period of 39 years, to a $2 trillion company while many small businesses are struggling to stay afloat after a year of volatile shutdowns.

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“While the announcement of thousands of potential jobs coming to the Triangle is welcome news, the latest Apple incentive deal represents another case of big government and big business in bed together,” said Brian Balfour, Senior Vice President of Research at the John Locke Foundation.

“Imagine being a small business owner who has paid taxes in North Carolina for years hearing that one of the largest corporations on the planet will be getting a massive tax break,” Balfour continued. “Such crony deals serve to centralize more economic power in the hands of politicians and their hand-picked corporations, leaving small businesses and other taxpayers to pay the bill.”

The governor’s corporate handout is not only unfair to other businesses in the state, but also ignores research indicating, “Large incentive packages targeted at individual companies don’t seem to spur broader economic growth at the state and local level,” according to the News & Observer.

Gov. Cooper’s decision also counters his own statement in 2017, when he tweeted, “Tax giveaways to corporations and the wealthiest will punch a hole in our budget.”

Princeton study on corporate handouts also found that the cost falls disproportionately on lower-income communities, noting, “counties with an average wage of less than $40,000 pay over $350,000 per job…[while] counties with average wages over $100,000 pay less than $100,000 per job in a given subsidy.”

North Carolina is an attractive state in which to do business. The governor should ensure our state remains welcoming to all industries and all job creators, not just those he anoints with preferred status.