United States of subsidies: Sears among biggest corporate winners

  • Sears Holding Corp. has gotten nine local and state government subsidies, totaling more than $531 million.

      Sears Holding Corp. has gotten nine local and state government subsidies, totaling more than $531 million. mark welsh | Staff Photographer, 2011

By Niraj Chokshi
The Washington Post
Updated 3/22/2015 8:08 PM

In late 2013, Washington state made history.

On a mid-November Monday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law the largest corporate tax break in any state's history, with an estimated lifetime value of $8.7 billion.


The package was the result of a special three-day session Inslee, a Democrat, called in order to entice Boeing to build its 777X plane in the state.

Boeing didn't score big only on that day. The aerospace giant has received more state and local subsidy dollars than any other corporation in America, according to newly released data compiled by Good Jobs First, a policy resource center on subsidy data.

The state subsidy data was released Tuesday in conjunction with similar federal data and a matching report -- "Uncle Sam's Favorite Corporations" -- which reviews the grants, loans and other subsidies distributed by the federal government since 2000.

Over the course of those 15 years, the federal government has distributed $68 billion in grants and special tax credits to businesses, with two thirds of that transferred to large corporations. Six companies have received $1 billion or more, while 21 have received $500 million or more.

"We now see that big business dominates federal subsidy spending the way it does state and local programs," Philip Mattera, a co-author of the study, said in a news release.

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The largest recipient of federal grants and tax credits was a Spanish energy company, Iberdrola, which received the federal subsidies by "investing heavily in U.S. power generation facilities," Good Jobs First reports. The database, which the group touts as the first comprehensive accounting of federal subsidy awards, contains new records on more than 164,000 awards from 137 federal programs and expands on data collected by the group since 2010. The time period covered by the state and local data is less consistent.

Because open-records laws differ by state, the amount and extent of information obtained by Good Jobs First varies. Most is from the last 15 years, but some extends even further back, Mattera says. Of all the state and local subsidy dollars tracked, half went to the top 30 companies, led by Boeing. The aerospace giant alone has received $13 billion in subsidies. Chip-maker Intel and metal giant Alcoa each received nearly $6 billion. General Motors scored $3.7 billion and Ford secured $2.5 billion. All told, 19 large corporations have received at least $1 billion.

Some big corporations are also big double- and triple-dippers in federal and state funds.

Five corporations have achieved a trifecta, ranking among the 50 largest recipients of three kinds of funds: state subsidies; federal grants and tax credits; and federal loans, loan guarantees and bailout assistance. Those businesses, which Good Jobs First defines as the "most successful at obtaining subsidies from all levels of government" are Boeing, Ford Motor, General Electric, General Motors and JPMorgan Chase.

Another six -- Dow Chemical, Lockheed Martin, NRG Energy, Sempra Energy, SolarCity and United Technologies -- are among the top 50 recipients of state subsidies and federal grants. Goldman Sachs is among the largest recipients of state subsidies and federal loan assistance. Some businesses double-dipped in other ways, too. Of the hundred most profitable federal contractors in the 2014 fiscal year, nearly half have received federal grants or tax credits since 2000.


Here's a state-by-state Good Jobs First breakdown of the largest recipient of subsidy dollars and the number of state and local subsidies they've received:

-- -- -- --

State (Company): Amount (number of subsidies)

Alabama (ArcelorMittal): $1,073,000,000 (1)

Alaska (Teck Resources): $597,000,000 (3)

Arizona (Thomas J. Klutznick Co.): $97,400,000 (1)

Arkansas (Big River Steel): $139,500,000 (1)

California (Northrop Grumman): $429,887,998 (19)

Colorado (Starwood Property Trust): $300,000,000 (1)

Connecticut (United Technologies): $4,000,00,000 (1)

Delaware (AstraZeneca): $178,129,581 (8)

Florida (Scripps Research Institute): $545,000,000 (1)

Georgia (Hyundai Motor): $410,000,000 (1)

Hawaii (Hawaiian Electric Industries): $31,642 (4)

Idaho (Areva): $276,000,000 (1)

Illinois (Sears): $531,717,810 (9)

Indiana (General Motors): $593,409,543 (44)

Iowa (Orascom Group): $251,000,000 (1)

Kansas (General Motors): $417,866,917 (6)

Kentucky (Toyota): $551,883,698 (30)

Louisiana (Sempra Energy): $2,197,286,212 (10)

Maine (General Dynamics): $198,485,942 (18)

Maryland (Dominion Resources): $506,000,000 (1)

Massachusetts (Energy Management Inc.): $99,500,000 (1)

Michigan (General Motors): $1,989,982,174 (114)

Minnesota (Delta Air Lines): $838,000,000 (1)

Mississippi (Nissan): $1,263,530,210 (12)

Missouri (Cerner): $1,650,819,257 (16)

Montana (DirecTV): $2,415,000 (2)

Nebraska (ConAgra Foods): $16,161,970 (27)

Nevada (Tesla Motors): $1,287,000,000 (1)

New Hampshire (General Electric): $268,119 (3)

New Jersey (Prudential Financial): $434,105,947 (18)

New Mexico (Intel): $2,659,370,233 (41)

New York (Alcoa): $5,600,376,849 (13)

North Carolina (Apple): $336,485,233 (3)

North Dakota (Oaktree Capital Management): $800,000 (2)

Ohio (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles): $240,654,338 (15)

Oklahoma (Weyerhaeuser): $158,195,225 (4)

Oregon (Intel): $3,132,515,215 (25)

Pennsylvania (Royal Dutch Shell): $1,650,000,000 (1)

Rhode Island (General Growth Properties): $140,000,000 (1)

South Carolina (Boeing): $1,020,000,000 (6)

South Dakota (Terex): $2,205,000 (1)

Tennessee (Volkswagen): $818,800,000 (11)

Texas (Berkshire Hathaway): $802,720,000 (29)

Utah (Micron Technology): $171,061,598 (5)

Vermont (General Electric): $13,322,120 (8)

Virginia (Huntington Ingalls Industries): $98,000,000 (1)

Washington (Boeing): $11,945,527,815 (52)

West Virginia (Cabela's): $127,523,480 (2)

Wisconsin (Brunswick): $123,000,000 (2)

Wyoming (Brain Farm Digital Cinema): $96,935 (1)

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