Artificial Intelligence (AI) Sneaks in for Huge Cloud Computing Subsidies

November 28, 2023

Let’s rein in Big Tech’s dominance

The letters AI over a computer-looking set of data center servers and computersCloud computing and storage began its exponential growth a decade and a half ago – as more of our work and personal lives moved online, so did the need for more storage in data centers. The companies leading the aggressive buildout were Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Facebook (now Meta).

As swiftly as they built came the asks for taxpayer dollars. By 2016, states and localities were given these cash-rich tech giants an average subsidy of $2 million for every job, and almost half the states had enacted giveaways for data centers . Good Jobs First was early to sound the alarms on these wasteful deals, noting that cheap electricity and cool temperatures were far more important factors that went into site location, and subsidies shouldn’t pay for operations crucial to their day-to-day operations (why pay a company to do what it must do anyway?)

Now, as Good Jobs First Senior Research Analyst Kasia Tarczynska explains, artificial intelligence will only accelerate the demand for data centers equipped to process AI operations – with automatic taxpayer subsidies already flowing.

Also, Cryptocurrency Mining

Artificial intelligence subsidies aren’t the only relatively new technology we’re closely watching. As Good Jobs First Research Nya Anthony explains in this 64-second video, energy-intensive cryptocurrency mining often depends on increasing fossil fuel usage and taxing existing infrastructure – meaning ratepayers will see higher bills or even energy failures.

Besides steep, undisclosed energy discounts such facilities routinely get, some states are treating crypto mines as just more data centers, eligible for utility, sales and property tax breaks as well.

REAL Economic Development

Gas Works Park in Seattle, Washington
In Seattle, Washington, a former gasification plant turned public park.

Economic development isn’t about giving subsidies for data centers and cryptocurrency mining. Economic development is about ensuring public dollars stay in communities and help build them from the ground up. Great schools with teachers paid enough to live in the communities they teach, well-kept parks, well-connected mass transit, public health top curb pandemics – those, rather than another billion-dollar subsidy to Amazon Web Services (looking at you, Morrow, Oregon!) are the things we should be investing in.

With your help, we can ensure that’s where our money goes.

We know the asks are coming fast at you today, but we’d be honored if you considered supporting Good Jobs First. When states and localities choose to spend their precious dollars right, it means all of us can live our best lives.

Throughout our 25-year history, we’re proud of the work we’ve done to bring back billions of dollars to neighborhoods like yours. With your support, we can keep on doing it for years to come.

Together, let’s build a new economy.

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