Governor Cuomo: "For the State Senate to oppose Amazon, was governmental malpractice. 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....I've never seen a more absurd situation where political pandering and obvious pandering so defeats a bonafide economic development project."
Earlier today, Governor Cuomo responded to reports that Amazon is reconsidering its plan to establish a headquarters in Long Island City amid pushback from the State Senate.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
The State Senate is trying to stop Amazon from coming to Queens. Amazon is the largest economic development program that this state has ever won. It was a national competition where states all across the nation were vying for Amazon. There is no business that brings 25,000 jobs anymore. They don't exist. I spend days trying to bring a business that has 100 jobs, or 200 jobs. You don't get 25,000 jobs. You don't get 25,000 jobs average salary of $150,000.
The State Senate is trying to stop Amazon from coming. Why? It's located in Queens and there's local opposition in Queens that are afraid it might have a disruptive impact on the neighborhood. First of all, I've never done a major project where there is not some local opposition. It does not happen. Every project has local opposition. We built a new Tappan Zee Bridge, everybody was opposed until the bridge is done. You do new housing complex, everybody's opposed until it's done. The Long Island Rail Road, putting in new stations, fixing stations, I can't tell you the level of opposition. People just oppose change.
To oppose Amazon, which is the largest economic generator, it is the tech economy. You want to diversify your economy? You don't want to just be Wall Street and finance? We have R&D on Long Island working, we need Amazon. They've opposed it. And you want to know how dangerous it is? There's a story today that says Amazon may not come to New York. If Amazon does not come to New York, it's because of the political opposition. Because it is so ironic for Amazon, after they spent one year with everyone seducing them, and everyone courting them, we win and then there's political opposition.
Newark offered $7 billion for Amazon to go to Newark. They could have gone to Newark, they would have had the exact same workforce, et cetera. We incentivized Amazon to come, as we incentivize every big business to come. You know what the incentive package was? We get $27 billion in revenue, they get $3 billion back. We get 27, they get $3 billion back. I would do that all day long.
For the State Senate to oppose Amazon, was governmental malpractice. 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. You're not there to play politics. You're there to do what's right for the people of the State of New York. And what they did here was wrong...
...As I just mentioned, there's an article today in the Washington Post that says Amazon is thinking of pulling out. This was a national competition where every - they had hundreds of applications. People were courting them, governors, senators, mayors, everybody wanted them to come. We win! We win! It was an amazing victory that we won. We celebrated. Well this opposition - there's always opposition. They're moving into Long Island City, part of Queens, which is now basically all factories. The Long Island City water line was called Queens West. My father started it back in the 90's. Queens West was supposed to be mixed use residential and commercial. Commercial never happened. Amazon would transform that whole area. The local surrounding community is nervous. Why? Well, if you bring in Amazon what's going to happen to rental housing? Is it going to be hard for me to afford it? Valid, bonafide concerns. But also natural to any developer.
There's a second part of the opposition that is ideologically based. Amazon is rich, Jeff Bezos is rich, we shouldn't offer them any incentives. When they say incentives it makes it sound like we paid them to come. We don't pay them to come. They pay us - 27 in revenue. They get $2.5 billion as of right benefits from New York City, as of right, any company that moves in gets those benefits. We gave them a $500 million capital construction program. It's like saying they paid ten percent taxes per year—instead of ten, they'll pay nine percent. That's the economic package. Much less than other places offered. But there's an ideological group that says corporate welfare—Bezos is rich, we shouldn't give him anything. And then there's a pocket that is worried geographically what's going to happen to my neighborhood. It is not my party. It is not my party.
The popularity of Amazon is about 80 percent across the state—Democrats and Republicans. In New York City, in Queens, it's about 70 percent popular. It is a very small nucleus and it's a very small group of politicians who are pandering to the local politics. The problem is the State Senate has adopted that position. And that's what could stop Amazon. And if they do, I would not want to be a Democratic Senator coming back to my district to explain why Amazon left—because I pandered to their politics. It would be a tremendous loss. It is the largest economic development transaction in the history of the state of New York. And I understand politics very well. But I've never seen a more absurd situation where political pandering and obvious pandering so defeats a bonafide economic development project.