CEJ' Bus Tour brings subsidy waste to lifeBack >
November 17, 2014
Among the concerns of Open Buffalo's Worker Equity Table are businesses that reap subsidies from taxpayers while producing sub-living-wage jobs.
On Monday, Nov. 17, the Coalition for Economic Justice (an OB Worker Equity partner) hosted a Magic School Bus Tour of the “good, bad, and ugly” Western New York industrial development agencies (IDAs). They were joined by community members, workers, labor leaders, and elected officials.
The Rev. Kirk Laubenstein, Executive Director of CEJ, State Sen. Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo), Assemblyman Sean Ryan (D-Buffalo), Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz (D), Richard Lipsitz Jr., President of the Western New York Area Labor Federation, Ellen Kennedy, and Sam Magavern, Co-Director of Partnership for the Public Good, opened with remarks at a press conference prior to the bus tour concerning the unfair tax breaks given to companies like Gold's Gym (now Catalyst Fitness) and the Marriott Hotel in Lancaster. These tax breaks are allowing sales taxes to be diverted and property tax to be avoided while creating sub-living-wage jobs.
The bus tour began at Curtis Screw, whose new owner, MacLean Fogg, has received a tax break from the Erie County IDA that has translated to 165 living-wage jobs. The tour continued to Catalyst Fitness, formerly Gold’s Gym, which received a tax break from the Lancaster IDA. The tour’s final stop was another Lancaster IDA-supported site, the under-construction Marriott Hotel, which was able to receive a tax break because the hotel utilized the tourist destination classification.
The IDAs in towns surrounding Buffalo prove problematic, as public funding is not voted on by the public, and is arguably used solely for the corporation's advantage, rather than for public good.