The Price of Progress

For too long, urban centers across the country have been ensnared in a cycle of underdevelopment, hindered by property tax disparities, the absence of cohesive affordable housing strategies, and insufficient educational investments. In an effort to counteract these challenges, cities like Baltimore have resorted to controversial tactics, offering lucrative incentives to developers under the guise of benign acronyms like TIF (Tax Increment Financing) and PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes), despite these strategies often exacerbating the strain on their working-class populations.

Tax Broke is not only an exploration of Baltimore’s challenges, but is also a critical examination of a pervasive issue affecting cities nationwide. This investigative documentary delves into the deep-seated problems caused by opaque tax break systems that disproportionately impact the working class, shining a light on a matter of importance far beyond Baltimore’s city limits.

Yet, the promise that such incentives would catalyze urban rejuvenation remains unfulfilled, and cities like Baltimore witness continued population decline. Tax Broke seeks to unravel the complexities of this issue, questioning why Baltimore and other similar cities find themselves in a position where they must subsidize development to achieve growth. The film invites a broader discourse on alternative methods of urban development, aiming to ignite a conversation on the necessity of transparency and fairness in tax break systems.

Through its comprehensive investigation, the documentary Tax Broke positions itself as an indispensable resource for understanding the intricacies of urban development strategies and their ramifications, offering insights that are crucial for other cities grappling with similar dilemmas across the nation.

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Host & Producer
Taya Graham is an award-winning investigative reporter who has covered U.S. politics, local government, and the criminal justice system. She is the host of TRNN's "Police Accountability Report," and producer and co-creator of the award-winning podcast "Truth and Reconciliation" on Baltimore's NPR affiliate WYPR. She has written extensively for a variety of publications including the Afro American Newspaper, the oldest black-owned publication in the country, and was a frequent contributor to Morgan State Radio at a historic HBCU. She has also produced two documentaries, including the feature-length film "The Friendliest Town." Although her reporting focuses on the criminal justice system and government accountability, she has provided on the ground coverage of presidential primaries and elections as well as local and state campaigns. Follow her on Twitter.

Host & Producer
Stephen Janis is an award winning investigative reporter turned documentary filmmaker. His first feature film, The Friendliest Town was distributed by Gravitas Ventures and won an award of distinction from The Impact Doc Film Festival, and a humanitarian award from The Indie Film Fest. He is the co-host and creator of The Police Accountability Report on The Real News Network, which has received more than 10,000,000 views on YouTube. His work as a reporter has been featured on a variety of national shows including the Netflix reboot of Unsolved Mysteries, Dead of Night on Investigation Discovery Channel, Relentless on NBC, and Sins of the City on TV One.

He has co-authored several books on policing, corruption, and the root causes of violence including Why Do We Kill: The Pathology of Murder in Baltimore and You Can’t Stop Murder: Truths about Policing in Baltimore and Beyond. He is also the co-host of the true crime podcast Land of the Unsolved. Prior to joining The Real News, Janis won three Capital Emmys for investigative series working as an investigative producer for WBFF. Follow him on Twitter.

Jayne Miller is the former Chief Investigative Reporter for WBAL-TV in Baltimore.
She was a broadcast journalist for more than 45 years before her retirement in 2022. Her reporting led to changes in legislation, public policy and private industry practices and standards. Jayne is a Penn State Alumni Fellow. Her work earned a duPont-Columbia award, an Edward R. Murrow award, and a National Headliner award. She was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement award by the Radio Television Digital News Foundation (RTDNF) in 2022. Jayne lives in Baltimore and is active in civic affairs, serving on the boards of several nonprofits, including Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake, Leadership Baltimore County, the Canton Community Association, and Citizens Planning and Housing Association. She is now working on podcasting and documentary production. @jemillerbalt