ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Open warfare erupted in the state capital Tuesday over the controversial Amazon deal, after newly powerful Senate Democrats nominated a vocal critic to a state board that has the power to kill the project.
The folks at Amazon are about to find out what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the man who lured Amazon to Long Island City with $3 billion in tax breaks, is squaring off against Queens Sen. Michael Gianaris, who says the deal should die.
“I definitely think this deal should be stopped,” Gianaris said.
Gianaris, who represents Long Island City, where Amazon wants to build a new campus, has led opposition to the deal and was just handed a way to maybe stick a fork in it, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins nominated him to the little-known Public Authorities Control Board that may have to approve it.
If it does, he won’t.
“The deal that was constructed is so bad I do not believe it can form the basis of a negotiation,” Gianaris said.
He’s opposed to giving tax breaks to one of the world’s richest companies, and charges that Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio didn’t get enough in return, like commitments for transit, housing and jobs.
“When you have the highest taxes in the United States you have to offer an incentive package,” Cuomo said. “Otherwise, they wouldn’t be here.”
Cuomo said the Senate is playing politics. He furiously defended the tax breaks as justified to lure Amazon’s 25,000 jobs. For him, it’s basic math — $30 billion in revenue from Amazon in exchange for $3 billion in incentives.
“They could have gone to Newark. They could have had that same workforce and we would have lost all those revenues,” the governor said.
Newark offered $7 billion in tax breaks, Cuomo said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio also defended the deal, saying he doesn’t think Gianaris wants to be the one responsible for all those jobs going elsewhere.
“I’m speaking as a New York City patriot. We must be an international tech capital. This is the way we defend the future of this city,” the mayor said.
As Gov. Cuomo gets to approve the Gianaris appointment, he didn’t say he wouldn’t just yet, because that would surely alienate the very senators he needs to approve congestion pricing and a whole lot of other things.
But he did say he wouldn’t put anyone on the board who says I’m here to play politics.