Center for Working Families

On the job with Jason and Will

Issue #6: July 25, 2012

Which program is the best use of public money?

A)    A corporate subsidy program that costs $71,859 per newly created job*

B)    A job training program that costs $8,670 per newly created job

C)    A corporate tax-exempt bond deal that costs $1.65 billion and eliminates 1,000 jobs**

This isn’t a trick question: The answer is B - Green Jobs/Green NY’s on-the-job training program, which began several months ago.

The training prepares New Yorkers for green jobs by teaching them how to evaluate the efficiency of heating systems, install insulation in drafty homes and find gas leaks and other safety problems. One graduate is Will Graeper, who discovered a dangerous carbon monoxide leak in one of the homes he tested. (See Will’s story below.)

So far, GJGNY’s on-the-job training program has created 62 green jobs with an average hourly wage of $16.76 plus benefits. The cost to the state? $537,520. That’s $8,700 per job.

It’s a start, and thousands more jobs are projected in the coming years. And state officials say several hundred more New Yorkers have received training using GJGNY funding. For instance, Syracuse’s Cornell Robinson used his training to start his own business, C&R Quality Painting. Many of the GJGNY trainees have been unemployed or economically disadvantaged.

What’s the difference between “economic development” programs that subsidize corporations and a program like GJGNY? One uses public money to benefit the corporation, too often with minimal or no benefit to regular New Yorkers. The other uses public money to benefit the public and create decent jobs for real people.

* Cost per job of New York State subsidy to the Remington Arms Company in Ilion. The company has threatened to leave the state if the legislature requires the micro-stamping of bullet casings.

** Cost of New York State’s 2005 allocation in triple tax-exempt bonds to Goldman Sachs, which state and city leaders said meant additional jobs. Goldman Sachs instead reduced its workforce here.

This issue of Watt’s New? was prepared by Anthony Ng, Stephan Edel, Chloe Tribich and Joseph Rappaport of the Center for Working Families.

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