Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday criticized state Senate Democrats after reports that Amazon is reconsidering its decision to open a second headquarters in New York.
The Washington Post reported that Amazon may explore alternative sites in other states due to opposition in New York from some elected officials. The opponents include state Sen. Michael Gianaris, whose district is home to the proposed site of the Amazon HQ2 facility.
Cuomo didn't mention Gianaris by name during his remarks at an event on Long Island, but he slammed Senate Democrats for opposition to the proposed Amazon headquarters.
"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," Cuomo said. "It is irresponsible to allow political opposition to overcome sound government policy."
Amazon announced in November that it selected New York and Virginia for its new headquarters on the East Coast. The Seattle-based company held a competition that drew interest from several states and hundreds of municipalities.
To draw Amazon to New York, the city and state offered an incentives package totaling $3 billion. The state would provide $1.7 billion in grants and tax credits to support the project. The city's share would be $1.3 billion in tax incentives.
Amazon would create at least 25,000 jobs in New York. The headquarters would generate an estimated $27.5 billion in revenues for the state and city over a 25-year period.
Before the Washington Post story, Amazon was already hinting that it may consider other sites due to opposition from local officials. There has been criticism of the project because of its potential impact on the housing market in the Long Island City area and gentrification.
The possibility of the Amazon deal being rejected increased this week when Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins selected Gianaris to serve on the state Public Authorities Control Board. The board would be tasked with reviewing the Amazon deal.
Gianaris reiterated his opposition to the Amazon deal in an op-ed for USA Today. He questioned the use of public funds for the project, especially since Amazon is a large corporation. Last year, the company reported profits of $2.5 billion in one quarter — nearly the same amount it hopes to secure from the state and city to open the new headquarters.
"Continuing to subsidize companies like Amazon puts the wants of the wealthy before the priorities of the people," Gianaris wrote. "New York can be the biggest loser in this cynical game, or we can lead the way to a more promising future. It is time we make the right choice."
Cuomo, though, downplayed the incentives during a brief question-and-answer session following his Long Island event. He again noted that Amazon would generate $27 billion in revenues — a much larger sum than the $3 billion in grants and tax credits the company would receive.
He accused some officials of "pandering to the local politics." And he once again blamed the state Senate for taking a stance that could lead Amazon to choose another location for its headquarters.
"I would not want to be a Democratic senator coming back to my district to explain why Amazon left because (they) pandered to their politics," Cuomo said. "It would be a tremendous loss."