A push to bring up to 25,000 Amazon jobs to Queens could be a costly one to taxpayers in New York. It's part of the nationwide search by the web retail giant for its second headquarters.
“Some states have put together crazy incentive packages. Some states say they've put together as much as $7 billion. But we've put together a strong incentive package,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
But taxpayers still don't know exactly how much New York state is offering Amazon in tax breaks to come to the Queens neighborhood known as Long Island City. Cuomo joked this month he's willing to do almost anything.
“Anything they want named Amazon — I'll change my name to Amazon Cuomo if that's what it takes,” he said.
But some lawmakers aren't laughing. Democratic state Senator Mike Gianaris and New York City Councilman Jimmy Van Brammer on Sunday in a statement said they would be opposed to the move if it meant massive tax breaks to one of the world's richest and most successful companies. Nevertheless, they may not have much input over the tax break package offered to Amazon.
“Most of the tax breaks are already set in statute unless they created a new one, in which case, there would be no need for the Legislature to be involved. There are also large pots of money that the governor can tap into which are pretty generic. He could use those as well,” said David Friedfel, Citizens Budget Commission.
And some Republican lawmakers are questioning the value of granting state tax incentives for an area that's booming economically compared to the rest of the state. Tax breaks for jobs has come under scrutiny in areas like upstate New York, where critics say the economic gains have been disappointing.
“Part of the idea is to grow New York's economy. So to bring a massive employer into the state isn't necessarily a bad idea as long as it isn't a bad deal for taxpayers,” said Friedfel.
Any tax break offered would only be granted after the company could prove jobs were created.