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Cuomo: Amazon Deal – “It costs us nothing, nada, niente, goose egg.”

The initial $1.5 billion in incentives for Amazon to bring up to 25,000 jobs to Long Island City in Queens ultimately won’t cost New York anything, Gov. Andrew Cuomo insisted at a news conference on Tuesday.

The tax breaks over 10 years are tied to job creation, but the company is also receiving $350 million in a cash grant from the Empire State Development Corp. to help develop office space.

And the tax incentives grow to $1.7 billion for 40,000 jobs created after 15 years by the company.

“We don’t have this kind of money. We’re going to make this kind of money from this transaction,” Cuomo said. It costs us nothing, nada, nothing, niente, goose egg. We make money doing this.”

Cuomo also said the decision by Amazon to bring its second headquarters to Queens “memorialized” his economic development efforts. “This is day in, day out the status of economic development,” Cuomo said. “There is constant and ferocious competition between the different states and the different cities.”

But there are skeptics and critics of tax incentives, the largest New York has ever announced for a single company, on both the right and the left.

“New York State and the New York City bosses in charge continue to put corporate America above the hardworking men and women gutting it out every day in New York’s abysmal business climate,” said Republican Sen. Fred Akshar.

Another upstate Republican, Sen. Cathy Young, pointed to sports apparel manufacturer New Era announcing plans on Tuesday to close its western New York plant next year, a move that affects 270 jobs.

“Overburdened New York taxpayers, particularly those in upstate who are seeing their communities and families decimated by job losses and lack of opportunity, have every right to be outraged by this massive giveaway,” she said.

Democratic state Sen. Michael Gianaris said “We are witness to a cynical game in which Amazon duped New York into offering unprecedented amounts of tax dollars to one of the wealthiest companies on Earth. “Too much is at stake to accept this without a fight, a bad deal for New York and for Long Island City.” Other needs are more pressing.

But the announcement also created the odd pairing of Cuomo with his rival, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who cheered the announcement at the governor’s Manhattan office in New York City.

“New Yorkers will get tens of thousands of new, good-paying jobs, and Amazon will get the best talent in the world,” he said. “We’re going to use this opportunity to open up good careers in tech to thousands of people looking for their foothold in the new economy, including those in City colleges and public housing.

And the announcement won the support of other Queens officials, including the borough president, Melinda Katz and Gary LaBarbera of the Building and Construction Trades Council. Steven Rubinstein, chair of the Board of the Association for A Better New York commented: “Amazon on the East River is no accident. It’s an outgrowth of what has and continues to make New York so special. There is no better city in the world than New York to access a large and diverse pool of talent,” as did the world or real estate.

I tend to be one of the nay-sayers. Why? The state’s Economic Development Corporation, the umbrella organization in charge since 2011, has spent billions to encourage companies to the relocate to the state and create new jobs with abysmal results a matter of record. We would be naive to think that what was agreed to with Amazon will, to quote the governor again, “cost us nothing, nada, niente, a goose egg” unless money grows on trees. Once again, we’ve been had!

 

 

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