Boy is the corporate welfare machine rolling in Aurora these days. Gaylord Entertainment is benefiting from a massive amount of subsidies and tax breaks from the city of Aurora for the honor of locating their hotel and conference center there. If Gaylord were not granted the $300 million in generous “support,” the theory goes, they would not have located their project in Aurora. Of course whether they put roots down in Aurora or somewhere else is besides the point. What matters is the massive wealth transfer from taxpayers in Aurora to a private corporation.
One way for a city to oil up their corporate welfare machine is to “blight” some land, which allows local governments, schools and special districts to “rebate to developers what they pay in property taxes for 25 years.” The word “blight” is to developers as the word “candy” is to children. Except that children have to work a little sometimes to get their candy. However, blighting some land only requires some fancy English language tricks and a stroke of the corporate welfare pen. Here’s what Sen. Morgan Carroll had to say in the Denver Post about this scheme,
It does not pass the straight-face test for the blighted designation… It’s a financing game to get public subsidies for a project that might be wonderful if it were privately financed.
Sen. Carroll hits it out of the park with, “if it were privately financed.” You know, I remember a time when companies would raise money the old-fashioned way – through bank loans. And, now I know I’m showing my age with this one, through private investors. Crazy right? Corporations used to raise capital through means that do not take taxpayers hostage. Not anymore. Now when a project isn’t profitable enough to catch the attention of folks who want to make investments with their own money (to earn a little profit), corporations go to city councils and pitch unprofitable ideas to be financed off the backs of the residents. If banks say no, governments say yes.
Beware of the terms, “incentives,” “grants,” “urban-renewal,” “blight,” “public-private partnership,” and “public investment.” They are all euphemisms for the taxpayer funded corporate welfare gravy train.
Here’s what senior fellow Randal O’Toole has to say about this Gaylord project in the Denver Post earlier this month: Taxpayers Should Reject TIF.