Tag Archives: Tax Breaks

Haslam’s Astonishing Corporate Offer: Have a Skyscraper

Tower for SaleRather than building an economy from the bottom up and middle out, Bill Haslam has doubled down on risky mega-tax handouts that don’t always deliver the jobs they promise and too often favor big corporations instead of small business.

On Monday, we learned just how far Haslam’s administration is willing to go to please big corporations and CEOs.

In 2011, the Haslam administration packaged nearly $600 million worth of tax breaks and giveaways — including the 31-story Tennessee Tower! —  in an attempt to lure Sears to Nashville.

Watching Phil Williams’ report really leaves you wondering — with Haslam in charge, what part of our state isn’t for sale?

As soon as Haslam took office, his administration expanded Tennessee’s cash giveaways to big businesses even though The Nashville Business Journal reported that these programs gave more than $60 million to companies that never produced the jobs they promised.

Though the $100,000-per-job tax break never happened with Sears, another big corporation has benefited from a similar, secret arrangement.

Last year the Haslam administration approved a $30 million tax handout to Eastman Chemical, a Fortune 500 company and a big Haslam campaign contributor, for a project that might only add 300 jobs — that’s $100,000 per job.

In December 2012, The New York Times estimated that every Tennessee taxpayer chips in $249 a year — totaling at least $1.6 billion — to pay for state tax breaks and cash giveaways for big business.

The worst part of these giveaways is the absolute lack of accountability. In November, the state comptroller’s office issued a scathing report showing how little Haslam’s administration expects of the businesses lining up for a cut of our tax dollars.

We can’t make the critical investments our state needs to strengthen the middle class if we’re wasting our tax dollars on handouts that aren’t creating good-paying jobs.

To be fair, Haslam does believe in accountability for some Tennesseans — just not his administration or his business pals. In 2012, Haslam signed a law requiring drug testing for welfare recipients. So there’s that.

Brandon Puttbrese is a public relations specialist and former communications director at the Tennessee Democratic Party. Find him on Twitter and Facebook.com

Is Haslam Small Business Friendly?

Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Mike McWherter has come out swinging this morning against Republican Bill Haslam on his opposition to proposed tax breaks for Tennessee small businesses even thought Haslam’s Pilot Oil has taken over $500,000 in state subsidies and grants in the past 26 months.

From the McWherter release:

“Bill Haslam, who owns a multi-billion dollar oil company, claims he is in favor of job creation, yet he is on record in opposition to my proposed tax breaks for small businesses that create new jobs and promote job growth.” said Mike McWherter. “It’s bad enough that Haslam opposes tax breaks for small business owners, now we find out that his big oil company has received over half a million dollars in state subsidies in a little over two years. If these breaks are good enough for Pilot Oil, then why not provide real opportunities to mom and pop operations across our state? I feel certain the voters and small business owners of Tennessee would like to know.”

Records show that between July of 2007 and November of 2009, Pilot Oil Corporation and Pilot Travel Centers LLC, received more than half a million dollars in grants and subsidies from various state agencies including the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC).

McWherter has proposed offering jobs tax credits to Tennessee small businesses that create good paying full-time jobs for Tennessee workers. His proposal would build on Governor Bredesen’s current successful approach in providing jobs tax credits to large industries as incentives for investing in Tennessee jobs.

“Small businesses employ the vast majority of Tennessee jobs and are the fuel that drives the state’s economic engine.” added McWherter. “As Governor, I will make it a top priority to ensure that all businesses, regardless of where they are located, are afforded the same opportunities to sustain and grow new jobs for Tennesseans.”

Why does Bill Haslam think his business, Pilot Oil, is entitled to subsidies and grants and other smaller family owned businesses aren’t? How can Haslam say he’s for growing businesses, and by extension, job opportunities for Tennesseans when he doesn’t support a proven system for bringing that growth to the state?

Haslam has some questions to answer; his non-disclosure of his Pilot Oil holdings, his unwillingness to place them in a blind trust, and his sin of omission on his resume are just a few.

But the biggest question Tennesseans should be asking is if Bill Haslam is small business friendly, and based on this report, the answer is no.