I’m not sure this is a good idea…it’s probably a devil-in-the-details situation… but it’s certainly an interesting idea. This opinion piece from Matt Reed at Florida Today does a nice job of outlining the picking-favorites, what-about-me spiral that incentives programs fall into if they aren’t backed by a very careful, very prudent strategy for clearly targeting incentives to policy objectives… and using them fairly.
It’s important to note, though, that the across-the-board property tax cut he proposes isn’t a solution for everyone — I don’t even know if it’s a prudent solution for the communities he’s identified. Anytime someone cavalierly asserts that “that government can afford to give up half of that income stream,” you shouldn’t accept that without looking very closely at the numbers. Without analyzing the budgets of the governments he identifies, I certainly can’t judge whether those would be minor cuts or big threats to the basic services that both businesses and residents need. It could be that the state and the region can afford to offer these kinds of incentives across the board, or it could be that they’re not. I don’t know.
But here’s the point I think is most relevant here: without very clear, and very clearly communicated, targeting of incentives to businesses that fit very specific policy objectives, and give a sound foundation for saying yes to some and no to others, the solution that the author proposes may be the only defensible option. That’s a choice that communities and regions should be making consciously, and too often, they don’t