Walmart Subsidy Watch: Why Do Public Officials Give Your Tax Money To Walmart?

Here’s something we don’t really understand. Why do public officials feel they need to give government subsidies to the nation’s largest employer? It’s sort of baffling.

Non-profit watchdog group Good Jobs First has put together a website detailing Walmart’s government subsidy deals.

Our home state of Illinois leads the pack with $152,130,000 in taxpayer money generously donated to Walmart. For example the community of Belleville, IL issued $9.9 million in subsidies to Walmart to build a store… and close another store 2 miles away when the new facility is complete. What gives? We’ve heard of taxpayers getting screwed when an NFL team wants a new stadium across town… but paying $9.9 million to relocate a Walmart? Did the blue vests start playing some sort of sport that we aren’t aware of? —MEGHANN MARCO

Wal-Mart Subsidy Watch
(Photo: northernplateguy)

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  1. I love the Meghann Illinois specials.

  2. vr4z06gt says:

    fuck walmart..Target is way better, there is one and only one reason i go to walmart, to buy motor oil and oil filters to change the oil in my car, if target would start selling it then i would gladly go to target and buy it.

  3. vr4z06gt says:

    o yea and to make fun of all the degenerates that usually occupy those cesspools.

  4. catnapped says:

    May as well ask why the hell we’re also subsidizing oil companies. Not as if they’re going to file for bankruptcy tomorrow (no matter what they claim to the contrary)

  5. Meg Marco says:

    Illinois gets my tough love.

  6. mopar_man says:

    It’s almost as if people WANT Wal-Mart to monopolize their towns. They piss away 95% of their paycheck there buying junk Chinese goods and then their taxes are forced down the throats of Wal-Mart stores.

    @vr4z06gt:
    If you have a NAPA (or any other auto parts store for that matter), go there instead. Wal-Mart’s cheapest oil is something like $1.79/quart. Go to an auto parts store and you’ll find they have their own store brand that will be comparible in price. Chances are, you’ll have a better selection of oil and filters there as well. That same store will probably take your old oil from the car too. I won’t even go to Wal-Mart to buy light bulbs.

  7. orig_club_soda says:

    …maybe because of the $ millions of sales tax and other taxes cities will earn if Wal Mart comes to their town?

  8. vr4z06gt says:

    @mopar_man:

    O there are plenty of of NAPA, autozone, Pep-Boys, not to mention the others but I only use Mobil 1 Full Synthetic in my car…and for some reason walmat is by far the cheapest its about $21.00 for 5 quarts there VS about $30-$40 everywhere else…

  9. Secularsage says:

    LOL, I live in Belleville!

    To explain the situation … Belleville is an old community that has made a lot of bad decisions along the way, such as blocking interstates from coming through town, enacting all sorts of silly codes and statutes preventing building from going on without the city getting a major cut, and even preventing shopping centers from opening in an effort to drive people to downtown Belleville to shop — an effort so unsuccessful that more than half of the retail space is now either vacant or occupied by hospice care, churches, law firms, and so forth. (I live downtown, and the area is rapidly declining because of these trends!) Belleville also chased out most of its car dealerships, one of the big draws of the city twenty years ago, with high taxes and a refusal to encourage interstate growth.

    How has Belleville gotten away with this behavior and still managed to stay alive as a city? They have the courthouse for St. Clair county, which means that they have the power. But look at neighboring communities, like O’Fallon and Fairview Heights, both of which are right along I-64 and both of which are thriving as a result. The village of Shiloh, which doesn’t even have a post office, recently built a huge shopping center off exit 16, and they’re in MUCH better shape than Belleville.

    Belleville, in the meantime, is rapidly losing its west side of town as people migrate in from East St. Louis, and they’re trying to their best to save the east side with three measures:

    1) A major shopping center along the undeveloped land on Carlyle Ave / IL-161. This is where the Wal-Mart is going; a Lowe’s was already built there last year. This shopping center is still a ways away from the interstate, but it will bring new growth to that side of town (largely populated by military folks and college students since Scott AFB and Southwest Illinois College are on the same stretch).

    2) Extending IL 158 to give Belleville access to an interstate. Aside from I-255, there are no interstates running to Belleville right now, and it only glances along the Belleville / East St. Louis Border.

    3) Building along IL-15, a highway that runs along the southern border of the town, and eventually turning it into an interstate connection between I-64 and I-255. They’ve started building a Target and a Home Depot there already, and they moved a car dealership out that way.

    How much of this do you think taxpayers are covering? Answer: Most of it. And, from what I understand, it’s not just Belleville taxpayers, either; St. Clair County is chipping in, and Illinois is shoveling pork down this way. 9.9 million is probably the largest sum being paid, but there’s much, much more.

    If Belleville is successful — good. It’ll raise my property value. But chances are good they’re doing too little, too late; all they’re going to do is cannibalize sales of businesses in Shiloh, O’Fallon and Fairview Heights, leading those communities to work harder to attract new business. And, unlike Belleville, they’ve got the leg up.

    As a side note to this lengthy post, that Wal-Mart they’re closing? It’s probably about 20-30 years old, but it’s rarely busy. I’ll be interested to see if the new Wal-Mart spurs development enough to justify the enormous price we in Belleville are paying for it!

  10. ExecutorElassus says:

    @orig_club_soda: actually, some county in California did a study that found that adding a Wal*mart effectively decreased county and state tax revenues by something pretty substantial; i think the county in question lost several million a year.
    think of all the extra medicaid money, which is what this the web site also mentions.

  11. ExecutorElassus says:

    on a side note: you people hate America. don’t you know that we EARNED the right to by low-priced quality products from friendly associates? Remember: we won The War.
    We deserve it. I deserve it.
    Of course I’ll super-size that.

  12. CiQuat says:

    I live just a few miles from the store in question. It has done nothing but cause traffic headaches in an area that cannot currently support the load. The traffic infrastructure was inadequate until just a few months ago, and it’s still bad now. I lived within walking distance of where the new Wal-Mart is going up up until last summer and I’m very glad we got out when we did. I’m now a comfortable distance away.

    The original store was just fine from a consumer’s point of view, but they wanted to open a Super Wal-Mart and there wasn’t room to renovate the original building in Carlyle Plaza as there was with the other nearby Wal-Mart. The reason they were so insistent upon building a Super Wal-Mart there is because of nearby Scott Air Force Base. The majority of the traffic headed to and from the base will pass by the new store, so they expect to bring in customers due to the new store, closer location, and the addition of groceries (now the closest department and closest grocery stores to the base).

    I do have to say, though, that the addition of a 2nd Lowe’s store (the other anchor store) to this area was very welcome. In the first weeks after the store opened, it was very nice to visit. (I’ve never been to a hardware store where the bins actually held the bolts they claimed to hold and nothing more! :-D)

    I do know they had to do a major amount of land preparation before the buildings started going up due to the coal mines. They were working underground for a number of months and may still be underground today shoring up the old shafts so the weight of the buildings do not cause the area to collapse.

  13. ExecutorElassus says:

    on a side note: you people hate America. don’t you know that we EARNED the right to by low-priced quality products from friendly associates? As their CEO says: Wal*Mart makes it possible to have things that otherwise I couldn’t afford.
    We earned it because we won The War.
    We deserve it.
    I deserve it.
    Of course I’ll super-size that.

  14. CaptainRoin says:

    @ExecutorElassus: “low-priced quality products from friendly associates”

    are we talking about the same Walmart here?

  15. AcidReign says:

    …..I can one-up that story! Today, we Alabama voters had to go to the polls to vote on whether to allow the state to BORROW $400 million to give developers! Now, it’s not enough to just give tax money away, they have to go and BORROW some to GIVE AWAY, too! As of 2:00 PM, only about 100 people had voted at my precinct. I guess that crap is OK with people! (Actually, they pretty much tried to “stealth” it past the voters. Elections in June, when people are at the beach?)

    http://www.al.com/news/birminghamnews/index.ssf?/base/news

  16. TechnoDestructo says:

    Would you rather that Walmart go in your town and kill all the local competition? Or would you rather it go into the neighboring town and kill all the local competition?

  17. revmatty says:

    “low-priced quality products from friendly associates”

    I think you left out a “low-” before “quality”

  18. TechnoDestructo says:

    @TechnoDestructo: hurf durf….

    Kill the local competition in your town, AND the one where it goes

  19. -s says:
  20. -s says:
  21. tschepsit says:

    Note that not all of the “subsidies” on the linked website are actually payments to Wal-mart or developers. Some of them are actually tax abatements, where the property tax is lowered (or eliminated) for a specified period of time. Usually the increased sales taxes will cover any difference here, so it’s actually a net positive for local tax payers. I hate Wal-Mart as much as the next guy, but the linked website clearly has an agenda and is publishing misleading statistics to further that agenda. Of course, if you subscribe to the theory that reducing taxes is the same as spending money (aka “all money is the government’s money”), then the statistics are spot-on for you.

  22. SadSam says:

    I don’t agree with corporate welfare especially for Wal-Mart. Cities subisdize Wal-Mart because they think they Wal-Mart will generate jobs and taxes, studies show that Wal-Mart actually costs cities money. Not that I don’t enjoy dumping on Wal-Mart but there are lots of other corporations out there being subsidized by our tax dollars. Wal-Mart is just 1 of many.

  23. catnapped says:

    @ExecutorElassus: Nazi shirts, poisoned toothpaste and melamine-enriched pet food? MMM MMM!

  24. Catalyst says:

    As a fellow Illiniosian, I have witnesses no less than 3 Super Wal-Marts go up, all three within 20 minutes of each other.

    As much as I dislike Wal-Mart for the way they treat their employees, the secondary benefit of the Super Wal-Marts is obvious. Lots of new development around the area, which means new jobs, more taxes, yadda yadda yadda. Mom and Pop Grocery can’t generate that, unfortunately.

  25. gizcongawk says:

    You should read Wal-Mart: The Face of 21st Century Capitalism

    http://www.amazon.com/Wal-Mart-Twenty-First-Century-Capita

  26. mopar_man says:

    @Catalyst:

    I think the only new development I’ve seen around a Wal-Mart that has actually succeeded is hotels. Nothing else can or wants to compete with Wal-Mart. I’ll happily go to a small mom & pop store where things can found easily before I go to Wal-Mart. Not only that, but chances much greater that the people working the mom & pop store are happy about where they’re working. I’ll also likely get quality goods there instead of poisoned Chinese junk.

  27. AcidReign says:

    …..Update! The “state need to borrow money to give to businesses” bill passed yesterday by a four-to-one margin. No wonder the nation thinks the Alabama voter is backwards!