Amazon announced on Thursday that it is pulling out of the Long Island City deal. See the story here.
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What part of $30 billion minus $3 billion equals $27 billion do they not understand? That remains the question as opposition to the Amazon-Long Island City deal, which would provide $27 billion in new revenue to the city and state in exchange for $3 billion in breaks, continues among some elected officials and activists who sometimes seem to oppose just about anything.
Luckily there remain adults in the room — surprisingly they’re Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio, not exactly economic development experts — who made the deal with Amazon and are sticking to their position that it would be enormously beneficial for our borough, city and state.
Asked about rising gentrification, a legitimate concern, on “The Brian Lehrer Show” last Friday, de Blasio pointed out that helping people stay in their homes through rent subsidies, for example, costs money. “Things like this Amazon deal, it’s not just the 25,000 to 40,000 jobs, which is amazing unto itself and we need, it’s also revenue that allows us to do the kinds of things that create more balance and more justice,” the “Tale of Two Cities” mayor pointed out.
Exactly. And with Wall Street becoming less reliable as a steady source of rising tax revenue, de Blasio, like his predecessor, recognizes that the city must diversify its economy. Is there any sector growing faster than technology? Is there any tech firm that has grown more rapidly than Amazon?
Cuomo cited the importance of diversifying the economy in comments about Amazon also made Friday. He spoke after the state Senate nominated Sen. Mike Gianaris of Astoria to the Public Authorities Control Board. That would give him the power to single-handedly nix the deal.
“For the state Senate to oppose Amazon was governmental malpractice,” he said at a press conference held to discuss the state budget. “And if they stop Amazon from coming to New York, they’re going to have the people of New York State to explain it to. It is irresponsible to allow political opposition to overcome sound government policy.”
But the appointment of Gianaris has to be approved by the governor. And he has no choice but to deny it, given that the senator has said there is no revision that could be made to the Amazon deal that would change his mind. (Try to square that statement with how Gianaris had publicly called for Amazon to come to Queens and only flip-flopped after seeing what Cuomo and de Blasio had agreed to.)
All this is having an effect. Also on Friday, the Washington Post — owned by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos — ran a story saying the company is reconsidering Queens due to the groundswell of political opposition it is facing. The piece only cited anonymous sources, and openly speculated that “it is possible that Amazon would try to use a threat to withdraw to put pressure on New York officials.”
Anti-Amazon officials such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and state Assemblyman Ron Kim crowed at the news that it might pull out of the deal, while the more level-headed Councilman Eric Ulrich said telling the company not to bring 25,000 good-paying jobs to the city is “crazy.” That’s how many it would have to create to receive the tax breaks.
Kim even proposed a bill to create a “collective agreement” with other states to not offer incentives to companies as a way of luring them. Luckily, the U.S. Constitution says “No State shall, without the Consent of Congress ... enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State.” Whew.
Just last week this page spoke to the importance of the Amazon deal. Very rarely do we address the same issue here two weeks in a row. But that’s how important this is. Remember, $30 billion minus $3 billion is $27 billion. And that’s a lot more than $0. This is about New York’s future.