Lawmakers Push Anti-Tax-Incentive Bills In Wake Of Amazon Deal

February 15, 2019 - 9:05 am

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – One of the big sticking points for those who fought the Amazon deal were the tax incentives the company was getting. So what does this mean for other companies who may be looking to set up shop in New York in the future?

The grassroots groups that sought to kill the $3 billion deal had the backing of state Democrats, who are now going a step further.

Related: Amazon Cancels Plans To Come To NYC

Queens Assemblyman Ron Kim, who is running for city public advocate, is among a group of lawmakers behind a bill that would ban the state from swaying any company’s location decision by giving away company-specific taxpayer funded subsidies.

“This has been a complete sham by politicians to transfer the wealth to the biggest corporations without any oversight,” Kim said.

Related: Amazon's Exit Could Scare Off Tech Companies From New York

Kim says other states are cooperating: a dozen lawmakers from Texas to Florida and Connecticut to Illinois have committed to introducing anti-tax-incentive bills of their own.

Aaron Elstein of Crain’s New York says fallout from the Amazon deal sends a message to other companies.

“New York has been trying very hard to show business that it’s okay to do business here, and Amazon just told everybody, ‘You know, it’s not really worth it,” Elstein said.

Even Mayor Bill de Blasio, who said it was “mission critical” to get a deal done and adamantly defended the billions in subsidies that the state was ready to hand out, seemed to backtrack on Thursday.

During his first public comments at Harvard University, after firmly being on Amazon’s side since November, the mayor said could have done better.

“It would've made a world of difference if Amazon took the attitude of ‘okay we want to be the neighbor, we’re willing to give back more,’” de Blasio said.

But, he still says the subsidies made sense for what the city was getting back and defend allowing Amazon to bypass the city's land-use review process.

“The nature of this particular project, there was no way we're gonna come to an agreement if we have to say, ‘there will be a variety of public approvals with no end in sight and no guarantees what would happen.’ This is a practical move,” the mayor added.

Amazon has said it will not be seeking a second location and will proceed with plans to build a headquarters operation in Virginia.