Jobs for Sale
Good news for Missouri. In a recent press release, Unisys announced that its forthcoming Application Modernization Center of Excellence is expected to create 300 IT jobs right here in St. Louis. And it only cost Missouri taxpayers more than $5 million dollars.
This means someone in Jefferson City thought that it was a good idea to award more than $5 million dollars in tax credits to a Fortune 500 company. Although tax credits aren’t a direct transfer of funds from taxpayers to industry, if a targeted company receives such credits and government spending is not also reduced by that same amount, the marginal tax rate increases for everybody else. Shifting the tax burden in this way is in itself a form of corporate welfare.
There must be a mistake. Someone must have thought that Unisys’ $4.6 billion in revenue last year was a typo. I mean, sure, if the “b” in “billion” were an “m” instead, I would say, “Why not? They are obviously struggling for survival. Last time I checked, kids didn’t need that money for scholarships, the elderly sure don’t need it for health care, and our roads are in pristine shape everywhere I drive. Yep, go ahead and give our $5 million dollars to Unisys; we don’t need it around here.” Unfortunately, in immediate retrospect, I realize that a similar thought had to go through someone’s mind — and what may be even scarier is that this individual has the ability to shift hundreds of millions of dollars in tax burden away from whomever he or she deems worthy.
I’m glad we have safety nets for companies like Unisys; you never know when one of those multinational companies (whose revenue stream is more than half of Missouri’s revenue for last year) might just slip through the cracks.